August 22, 2021
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 122

Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b
Psalm 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21
Ephesians 5:21-32 or 5:2a, 25-32
John 6:60-69

Praying Ordinary Time

An Invitation to Make the Online Retreat

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 
We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
- John 6

To whom shall we go?”

In this moving passage from the Gospel of John, St. Peter asks a question that must haunt every believer who is disappointed in their church. Like the disciples of old who abandoned Jesus, thousands have simply walked away from the Church.

Yet millions of us stay with no plans to leave. Why? It’s a question that I along with countless others (especially my fellow Catholics) surely ask ourselves every time there’s a headline about some new sexual, fiscal or historical scandal/coverup.

I think St. Peter’s answer to Jesus – which the human Jesus must have cherished—speaks to today’s troubled and hurting Church. Where else would we go that would satisfy our deepest needs, especially in times of personal trouble?

I was born into the pre-Vatican II church where nuns in our Catholic schools taught us that we alone had the truth. We were proud and certain but Vatican II forced us to look at our church and the world far less simplistically. Thank God! Modern scandals have forced us to face far more unpleasant truths. As we wait for desperately needed reforms to take hold, we suffer shame and anger.

But meanwhile those of us who will never leave ask ourselves where else could we go.

Having been formed in a background of rosaries, First Communions, May processions and more importantly by a sense of community and social justice, my Catholic identity is far too deep to be uprooted by the corruption of any church leaders. This isn’t about bishops and bad priests. It’s about Jesus and the community he called.

On days when I am particularly upset with our leaders, I try to imagine life outside the Church and frankly, I can’t.
I think of my beloved parish and the wonderful things we do together than none of us could do alone. I think of the heroic church workers in Third World countries and the saints who are my heroes. I think of how I have always turned to my faith in times of personal crisis and found strength and comfort.

“To whom shall we go?” asks Peter. Then he supplies the answer that is critical to us today. “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

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