Consequences of Sin
Over these past few weeks, as a Church we have been subjected, once again, to some very sorrowful news. Not only a priest, but a cardinal and prince of the Church is faced with serious accusations of abuse. I’m sure many of us hoped this would be behind us, but we face a moment that reminds us that the consequences of sin can be long lasting and devastating. We are reminded that even those set apart to be models of faith, those who wear red to symbolize their desire to shed blood for Christ, are also human and susceptible to sin.
Reliving this dark experience, hopefully as a Church we are now prepared for moments like these. While once priests were beyond reproach, supernatural figures, it is true no more, and that might not be the worst thing. It is certainly beautiful to respect the priesthood and see God’s grace at work in a powerful way, but never at the cost of losing sight of their humanity. With a realistic perspective, we can still admire a holy priest, but we also don’t ignore their shortcomings to the point of idolizing them. Rather than blindly following, we demand holiness of our priests, the way our priests should demand holiness of us.
This is so important, because our faith is never in the priest, but in the one whom the priest points to: Jesus Christ. The beauty of the priesthood is that the priest is meant to disappear and let Christ shine through: like a magnifying glass. The holier he is, the clearer the glass and the more we see Christ. And as broken as he may be, we know it’s not the light that is dulled, but the lens. In that way a priest becomes a vessel that helps us grow closer to Christ, but never an obstacle. If anything with this attitude we can put our faith in God all the more, appreciating how he manages to do so much good work even through such imperfect vessels.
Going through this trial then, all we can really do is pray. We pray for the victims of abuse, that they may find comfort and strength in God, the only one who can heal them. We pray for those guilty of such a sin, that God may be merciful and give them the grace they need to turn back to Him. We pray for all of us in the Church, that in a world where our faith is so often put down, we may defend it and serve as holy witnesses. And to do that, perhaps in humility we make our own way back to the Sacrament of Confession. Seeing the sin of others, the greatest good we can do is strive to overcome sin ourselves, with the hope that while others may cause scandal, our good example may in turn lead others to the faith.