Friday, January 22, 2016

Must we be always agreeing with the Church?

1.     Look at Jesus. He does not seek for the agreement of others. He does not ask if others agree or not with him. In fact he raises questions. He forces others to think and to struggle with their own questions. He “upsets” them. Jesus pushes people to think and to raise questions. 
2.     Let us recall the wrestling match between Jacob and that strange “angel” in Gen. 32/23-33. Jacob, the beloved, encounters this “angel” and wrestles with him. In the combat we see Jacob as, in fact, stronger than the “angel”. The “angel” allows Jacob to dominate. The story ends with Jacob refusing to let go of the “angel”—the defeated angel—until the “angel” blesses him. The “angel” gives the blessing and calls Jacob, now, as “Israel”. It is a beautiful story.
3.     This story tells us about our very own relationship with God and with the Church. Indeed life is a combat. Many things inside of us even RESIST certain teachings of the Church. We also wrestle with the Church. We experience ourselves raising questions and disagreeing with many things in the Church. We look back at history and we have “misgivings” about what the Church has done over the centuries. What the gospels say, what the Bible says, what the Church says…well, we have difficulties to accept many of that. Hence we wrestle—with God and with the Church.
4.     Is it not also true that we feel we “win” in the wrestling? Our arguments seem to be so convincing we feel we have enough arsenal to debilitate God and the Church. Well, in the Jacob story this is not an issue for the “angel”. The “angel” does not show sign of low self-esteem and wanting to desperately win against Jacob. The “angel” finds it ok that Jacob proves to be the stronger one. Who cares who is stronger anyway? Power and winning is a cultural issue. It is not the issue of the “angel”.

5.     Just like in the Jacob story, the time to wrestle is the time to progress in faith. Wrestling is not the occasion to give up and fall into despair. Wrestling is not the time to prove who is smart or who is powerful. It is an occasion to simply move on in faith! It is alright to wrestle. At a certain moment we might just realize that we are not just wrestling against God and Church but we are WRESTLING WITH God and the Church. Just do not give up the faith. Wrestle with it, if we must. We grow in doing so. 

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