The beginning of a new year can be a time for reflection and a time for change. As you read this issue of The Word Among Us, I'd like to ask all of us to reflect on the way we think and act.
Is it in keeping with the gospel that Jesus preached? I'd especially like to ask us to look beyond the specific acts that may or may not be pleasing to the Lord and examine the forces—good and bad—that lie behind these choices.
Why? Because Jesus has told us, "Cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean" (Matthew 23:26). There is a fierce drive active in the world, promoting philosophies that are opposed to Jesus and making empty promises of happiness and fulfillment. And sadly, many people—believers as well as unbelievers—have bought into these philosophies.
Many have embraced the notion that abortion is an individual choice to be made by a woman with no regard for the child in her womb. Many have accepted the idea that same-sex marriage is just as acceptable as heterosexual marriage. Others think it is okay to neglect the poor or to practice manipulation and deception just to get what they want. We may think these are only personal or social issues. But in the end, as with all moral questions, they really have to do with who God is and how he wants us to live.
A Perfect, yet Imperfect, Church. In this month's issue, we explore the eternal nature of the church—and the authority that the church has in teaching us and forming our consciences. Now we realize that members of the church have not always acted perfectly—bishops, popes, and lay people alike. Crimes and sins have been committed in the name of the Lord, and the world has suffered as a result. But even as we recognize the imperfections within the church, we want to hold on to the heavenly dimension of this church. Whatever else the church is, it is still the body of Christ—and that makes it different from every other organization. Even as it makes its way in this fallen world, the church continues to be the link between heaven and earth.
In describing the church, St. Paul once wrote that God gave it to us so that "the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known . . . to the principalities and authorities in the heavens" (Ephesians 3:10). In other words, the church is not only the light of God in this world, it is the light of the entire universe! It is nothing less than the revelation of God's mind to the whole of creation.
This is why the church is the most important institution in the world. This is why we need to embrace her teaching and adopt her philosophy of life. We cannot rely solely on personal choice when we face serious questions. We need the help of a higher authority—a spiritual authority. And that authority is found in the voice of the church.
I hope you enjoy reading this issue. I hope it inspires you to examine your way of thinking so that every decision you make this year—large and small—is in some way a reflection of the mind of Christ.