Here’s a thing to ponder. A brand with a message so powerful it has sold for two thousand years. But then along come some folk who think the message needs tweaking – they feel it doesn’t resonate with the market. So, they rebrand it with new packaging, they drop the bits of the message they felt didn’t resonate, and they replace it with something they feel most folk want to hear. That, they say, will refresh the brand and bring more folk in. Time passes, and yes, they acknowledge, some folk who liked the old brand aren’t buying this, but it’s aimed at the youngsters and new people – and that takes time. Time passes, not a lot of new folks come in, the older folk die off. At what point does someone realise the whole thing is not working? If you are Coca Cola, sharpish; if you’re the Anglican Church, never. If you see this happening to one of your rival companies do you think: a) jolly good, serve ’em right; b) let’s move into that market lads; or c) that’s the way to go? Rambling Pope Frank and his merry men seem to think c) is the right answer. What’s afoot? Are they all potty?
No, they simply fail to get to first base. We’re sinners. We all fall short. This will produce an unease which can’t be cured by telling folk to ‘be themselves’ – that’s the root of the problem; it can be assuaged for a while with materialism, but that is to morality what Chinese food is to a full stomach. Folk need what they will reject – to repent and follow Christ. There, and there alone do we find satisfaction. That core message has been resisted by all sinners, before they saw the light. If churches blur that, try to make it pleasant or otherwise think they know better than St Paul, they fail – and they fail those who need the message.
To my mind, a bunch of over-educated and spiritually underpowered folk have sold their heritage for a mess of pottage. The problem is that no one is buying what they are selling in place of the Gospel once received. You could once have relied on the Catholic Church to stand firm and to know the road – but this lot in charge seem to think the road to Munich is the right road. Anyone who uses words the way the Vatican uses them is hiding their true intentions under a cloud of verbiage.
So do we despair? No we don’t. The Holy Spirit knows who follows Christ faithfully, and we’ll do just that. I don’t need any priest of intermediary to tell me what God wants of me – the Bible tells me and the Holy Spirit tells me – and when I deviate, my conscience sounds a loud alarm. There’s many a good Christian in every Church. Young Bosco’s always sounding off about the sheep knowing each other, but he’s not as wrong as some folk here think – orthodox Christian recognise other orthodox Christians, and in these dark and parlous days when hirelings run the sheepfolds, we can stick together and rely on the Good Shepherd. Jesus asked the disciples in the boat ‘why are you afraid?’ Implying their faith was weak. Well, our’s is not – we live in the faith of the Resurrected Christ, and though the hosts of Satan were arrayed in force before us, in the sign of the Cross we know we shall conquer!