About "loving the Church, just as it is..."

I usually review the YouTube video of our Sunday mass because watching and listening to my own work offers opportunities for me to grow as a preacher.  Usually, that's in terms of delivery and my use of the teleprompter. 

But this week's review yielded something more.  After listening to my homily, it occurred to me that you might have concluded that I am content to "love the Church, just as it is."  I may have given the impression that I'm not much at all fazed by the litany of the Church's faults and failings I offered.  Well - I am, very much so!  I'm not at all content with the status quo of Church life and I'm particularly disturbed that progress in a healthy direction is so slow - even with the remarkable and blessed leadership of Pope Francis.
But here's the thing about love...  Love is not love if it rests only on past experience and hope for the future. True love is in the moment, regardless of the past (good or bad) and independent of what tomorrow may bring.  
A parent's love for a son or daughter who has caused some deep hurt may be based in a loving past and hopeful for healing in the future - but it is the parent's care and affection for the child in the season of disappointment that is the sign of how deep that love runs.  The good parent persists in loving the child who has betrayed the relationship that binds them.  The good parent doesn't stop loving the child until he or she comes around and makes things right. As we read in Romans 5:8  God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us...

It's like that with the Church and us (never forgetting that in a very real way we are the Church). The test of our love for the Church we knew and our hope for its restoration lies in our love for the Church in this season of shame and disappointment. True love survives the beloved's transgressions - out of love for the one who has offended.  It's in this sense that we are called to "love the Church, just as it is..."

Loving the Church just as it is does not mean condoning the Church's or any individual's failure to faithfully image Christ who is the heart of who we are as God's people. In fact, loving the Church requires us to be honest about just such failures. But that does not relieve us of what love demands: fidelity to the beloved even, and especially, in seasons of shame and disappointment.
Love is often hard and never without difficulties but love that endures: 
is the love we all desire; it's the love God has for us;
and the love Jesus calls us to, even for the Church - just as it is.

I hope this postscript to my homily might clear up any misconceptions I left you with on Sunday.



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