(Part One click here)
The saints loved the Church in the midst of all her troubles and imperfections. They loved her with an intimate love; so much so, that they were hurt in her persecution. Why? (It would seem natural to grow angry with and hate a group of people who are corrupt and sinful.) The reason is that the saints never forgot that they themselves were first sinners, and only by the grace of God were they able to see their own failures and repent. It was also clear to them that they daily depended on God’s grace to have enough strength to reject sin and to do good. This simple truth kept them in a humble state; a state wherein they could not condemn others without first condemning themselves. Internally, an intimate love for sinners grew out of their own longing for love and forgiveness. From this humility they were enabled to accept the criticism of others without denial in order to better themselves and help their friends and neighbors by virtuous and holy example.
Our response to the scandal of our generation must be like the responses of the saints: holiness. It must begin by an honest and humbling criticism of our own life, our actions, our intentions, our hopes, and everything else; secondly, we must repent and reject sin. Most importantly, we must live our life according to virtue and holiness.
Once we accept the reality that our sinfulness is also a source of scandal regardless of their gravity, we are silenced by grief and despair; we can no longer condemn others without condemning ourselves. We will begin to understand the real need for forgiveness even the need to forgive the most scandalous sinner: ourselves. We are not separate from the sinners in the Church; we are them, the first example sinners to our neighbor and friends. Thankfully, we can make a choice to repent and show the world that we are not bound by sin.
We must reply like the saints, but not necessarily with miracles, but more with love. Loving our neighbor even if they criticize us and the Church is a powerful thing. Our accusers will have an opportunity to stop and reconsider their attack because they will have been confused by our humble reaction and our love. They will see the beauty of our forgiving hearts, and the faithfulness of our hope. A hope that does not point to our own power and the power of other men and women but to God. Our hope is in the Lord who loves us and desires that we turn to Him.
In these sad and humbling times, we live the passion of Jesus who desired that we share in His persecution through the persecution of His body, the Church; therefore, take up His call to holiness so that our persecution as His disciples is complete.
Do not be discouraged by the sinfulness of others; do not worry about false accusations, but do everything out of love so that the world may hear and see the holiness of His body, the holy Catholic Church.