It is true. We all adapt and adjust to our surroundings. We adapt ourselves continually and necessarily because our society demands adaptation. Our world has recently had to adapt because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have had to adapt to working from home, homeschooling, ceasing socializing and travel. But, sometimes this adapting can pull the Christian away from the gospel and insert in the believer a set of values that differ from those of Christ. We all have to ask ourselves- “Is it really possible for us to lead a Christian life here and now without some great compromise and without adapting?” Or, does the gospel set standards which ordinary people like you and I can never attain? Does it point to unreachable heights and then add insult to injury by burdening us with massive guilt or by threatening severe punishments to those who fail the test?
In the second reading, for example, we are told that we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing praises who called out of darkness into His wonderful light. A chosen race means we are not a community of chance. Basic to Christian experience is a divine election. The church is a community called and each of us has been called by God to share the life of this community.
What does this mean? A royal priesthood? There is a small minority who are ordained to lead the people in sacrifice, but the sacrifice is still of the people, for the people and by the people. Never forget an important word in the Mass–“The bread that ‘we’ break and this cup that we offer.”
We are a people consecrated to God even in our sinfulness. But, what is the reality? What is your experience and what is my experience? Many of us would have to admit that our hearts are troubled and that we often put our trust in things other than God. We are far more turned on by the material and the carnal than we ever are by the Spirit and the things of the Spirit between Sunday religion and Monday real life.
The gospel is really addressed always and everywhere to a sinful people, to you and I just as we are. It is addressed to us in our actual human condition. To be human is to be flesh and blood. To be human is to be split between wanting the good and wanting the bad, morally schizophrenic. To be human is to be the arena of many extraordinary temptations and the birthplace of many disturbing desires.
We may imagine that everyone around us is happily secure, strong in faith, problem free and temptation-proof. Well, do not believe it. Such people do not exist and never have. I never met anyone without a doubt, temptation, or problems. We are, all of us, sharers in a common humanity. All of us have to travel the same road.
Just look at the group of people attending live mass on Sunday via their computers at home. Since Saturday evening, tens of hundreds of thousands of people tuned in. Gather those people anywhere and you will find among them a great kaleidoscope of human problems and situations. There will be divorced people, physically and mentally challenged people, people who are emotionally and psychologically challenged, and people with all kinds of human conditions and problems known only to God. There will be in this church all kinds of human conditions and people with problems known only to God. And, all will be welcome, not some, but all.
Ideally, we should be or try to be a church of the outcast, not a church that casts out people. To them, to us, to everyone, the gospel is addressed whatever the reality of our human condition. We have nothing to fear because God knows our problems and sees our temptations. He is aware of our doubts and our insecurities. Our gospel tells us that we need not always adjust to that which is around us. We can be different.
It tells us to have courage and hope whether we are troubled spiritually, morally, physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically or financially. It does not matter, Christ knows. He sees and again and again He says to us –“Come to me. Come as you are. Come with everything which is you.”
Wherever your problems are if just on the surface or very deep within you, do not panic, do not fear, be calm and listen to His words. Do not keep adapting to your environment if that environment is bad. Help change your environment, live and come out of the darkness into His wonderful light.
And always remember His words- “I am the way, the truth and the life. There is no other.”