I was tipped off to Cardinal Dolan’s brief essay on “a new minority.”
I am thinking of … Couples who … approach the Church for the sacrament; Couples who … have persevered through trials; couples who welcome God’s gifts of many babies; a young man and woman who have chosen not to live together until marriage; a gay man or woman who wants to be chaste; a couple who has decided that the wife would sacrifice a promising professional career to stay at home and raise their children — these wonderful people today often feel themselves a minority, certainly in culture, but even, at times in the Church! I believe there are many more of them than we think, but, given today’s pressure, they often feel excluded.
I was thinking of another minority, the one-third of Luke 15:11-32 who, while keeping faithful, made it a mission to disapprove of how another third was treated. It was unsatisfactory to know of one’s own faithfulness and celebrate that. It was the fact that the act of mercy was the subject of derision and anger.
Elsewhere in the chapter, an even smaller minority was the object of joy–more joy than when the faithful numbered 99%:
I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. (15:7)
Does this bother us? Should it? It is the way God works. Are we strong enough to adopt this attitude?
Bishops strike me as those who kept themselves faithful, loyal, and obedient. How many have had experiences of mercy after pre-marital sex, after making oodles of money in a pre-seminary career, after abandoning the Church for a decade or so, or after soliciting an abortion for a friend?
My sense is that many self-styled faithful Catholics these days have the internet and other venues for support. Is it as stark as Cardinal Dolan suggests:
Where do they receive support and encouragement? From TV? From magazines or newspapers? From movies? From Broadway? From their peers? Forget it!
Who is seriously looking for support from a little screen in their living room? The same screen that sells them all sorts of things from cars to insurance to toothpaste to male enhancement pills.
My sense is that people are encouraged by real life persons who can present the Gospel with joy. And when needed, a merciful welcome.
Is the Lord impressed by people who look to themselves and their needs? The impulse of the Gospel is always outward, other-centered. The Lord came to seek and save the lost. Not to comfort and reinforce the saved.
An illustration from the book Rebuilt. Christmas is coming pretty soon. What would be the reaction, do you suppose, if you announced to the parish on the 4th Sunday of Advent:
We will be inundated with visitors on the coming holiday. Let’s show them a welcome. Let’s walk to church if we are able. Let’s park in the spots fathest from the door, if we can walk a little bit. If the church fills up early, let’s give away our seats to somebody coming late.
How many people would find such a suggestion preposterous? Hopefully another minority. Do you think?