Fr Bob writes: Pope John XXIII, it is said, was having a restless night shortly after being elected pope. The concerns of the church and decisions to be made were pressing upon him. And so he turned fitfully from side to side. Finally he verbalized his sentiments. “Listen, Lord, this church is yours, not mine. I’m going to sleep.” And, as he said, he fell quickly asleep.
We all have moments when we wonder if it is all worth it. In a single lifetime, we have all met people who were deeply upset because the church veered too far to the left and then those who were equally disturbed when it went to the right. The church is ultimately Christ’s, as today’s liturgy teaches clearly, and he will see it through the storm. The early Christians also had trying times. They saw some of their earliest enthusiasts fall away in the course of time. Others started well but soon got detoured. It is enough to read the parable of the sower and the seed that fell along the path. Things were not all encouraging but Christianity survived.
The church is stronger than all the people who try to make it or unmake it, because it is in God’s hands, and God is at the helm. Yes, the church has its share of humanness. But with all its warts, it is still a beacon and a great source of strength. And how often things turn out better than we thought. Just when we felt that walls were crashing down around us, the lay people in the church emerged with a vitality and sense of ownership not previously imagined. Even while we sleep, God’s reign is growing, as our gospel parable today reminds us. And so we do not lose heart.