The Church Is the Road Map to Life

The Church Is the Road Map to Life August 27, 2019

What is truth?” This is Pilate’s well known retort to Jesus when questioning him in trial before Jesus’ Passion and Crucifixion. In John’s gospel, Pilate asks Jesus whether he is a king, to which Jesus responds,”You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

There Is an Objective Truth

If we believe that Jesus who he says he is, truly God, then we must believe that an objective truth exists and that Jesus is the Way to that truth. God cannot lie. He says that he came to testify to the truth. He also said everyone who belongs to the truth listens to him. Therefore, we must believe that his words in the gospels are true. If we are searching for truth, we have no further to look than Jesus Christ and his Church.

The Case Against Relativism 

What is truth?” seems to be the rallying cry for moral relativism in Western society today. Many have given in to the belief that right and wrong are subject to personal opinion or belief, and that morality can be different from one culture and period to another. This is moral relativism. If we believe Jesus’ words, we must believe that his mission was to convey  unchanging, objective truths to us and, therefore, if we want to walk in the truth we must follow him and obey his teachings.

A Spiritual GPS

We have lived in the same city for over three years now, and, though I mostly know my way around the winding, oak tree-lined streets, I still often have to resort to using my Google Maps App to find my way to a new location or to find the quickest way there. We are so fortunate and blessed to have GPS technology at our disposal. (Many of us learned how to drive in the age of folded paper road maps that you keep in the glove compartment of your car.) If we rely on a GPS to help us find our way around geographically, then we certainly also need a spiritual GPS or map to help us navigate our journey to eternity.

Road Map for Life

The Catholic Church is, and should be, our roadmap for life. In John, Chapter 14, Jesus tells his apostles, “Where [I] am going you know the way.” (John 14:4) Thomas, sounding as lost as I was when we first moved to our new home, exclaims, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus calmly and confidently reassures Thomas that he is following the right path when he replies, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) He tells Thomas and the other apostles, and us, to trust in him for the answers to life’s consequential and insignificant questions. Follow him – it’s as simple as that.

The Keys of the Kingdom

If we begin to follow him and believe and listen to his words, we come across this statement, which we, as Catholics, know to be pertaining to our Holy Church: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:18-19) He is handing over the keys of the kingdom to Peter and acknowledging that he will be the first in a long, unbroken succession of leaders of his Church whom we call pope. He is charging Peter with the leadership of his Body, the Catholic Church.

A Path Forward

Although some of these popes have, admittedly, been less than ideal, Jesus has assured us that evil and sin will not destroy our Church. The popes, and all of the members of the clergy, are imperfect human beings. Even with the scourge of the current sexual abuse crisis, we are forbidden to lose hope but, instead, to trust in him to heal, renew and restore all that seems to have been lost. Bishop Robert Barron, in his Letter to a Suffering Church, states, “Everything you love in the Church is still present and is worth defending; there is a path forward.” Although the devil has attempted and succeeded in wreaking havoc on Christ’s Body, the Church, Jesus promised he would never leave, never abandon us and would be with us until the end. We should remain faithful to our Holy Church and continue to depend on her for our salvation.

Why Stay?

When faced with abandonment from many of his disciples after his teaching on the Eucharist, Jesus asked his apostles, “Do you also wish to go away?” Peter, the leader, responded, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:66-68) Today, faced with the crisis of the sexual abuse scandal, Bishop Barron articulates what many of us ardently think and feel about our loyalty to the Catholic Church: “If you have found in Jesus everlasting life, salvation, the answer to the deepest longing of your heart, then no matter how difficult things become, and no matter how many of your fellows might drift away, you must stay.” Jesus, through the Catholic Church, has been for multitudes, our refuge in the storms of life, our light, and our salvation. Although, as Bishop Barron points out, “the vessels are all fragile and many of them are downright broken; but we don’t stay because of the vessels. We stay because of the treasure.” The treasure is, according to Bishop Barron, fivefold.

  1. The Church “speaks of God, of the transcendent Mystery, of that which corresponds to the most ardent desire of the heart, of the Ultimate Reality.”
  2. The Church is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ: “What the heart aches for – real union with God – is realized, personally and completely, in him.” Through Jesus, we are healed and restored and, ultimately, fulfilled.
  3. The Holy Spirit gives us energy and direction from above and guides us on our journey.
  4. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity, one God in three divine persons, expresses to us that God is Love. According to Bishop Barron, “What is real is love,” and we are a world desperately in need of love.
  5. The sacraments are the final dimension of this treasure, with the Eucharist being the single most important reason why we should stay faithful to the Catholic Church. St. Augustine reassures us that “the validity of the Eucharist is in no way compromised by the immorality of the priest involved in its consecration.” The Eucharist is always the Body and Blood of Christ, regardless of the purity of the priest who elevates it.

The Road Map is Ours

These are five of the precious treasures of the Church, with the Eucharist being central to our reason for fidelity. Our road map is clear and precise if we take the time to study it. Along with these are the scriptures, the words and examples of the saints, and holy tradition. We have the Catechism of the Catholic Church to delineate and outline all of the Church’s teachings. Our destination is heaven and our road map is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. What is missing for many is the gift of faith. We should pray for that gift, believing and trusting that it will be given us if we ask sincerely.

(Image by Erika Wittlieb from Pixabay)

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