“This language is very hard. Who can accept it?” When Jesus presented the bare truth on the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of His Body and Blood to His disciples, He immediately encountered oppositions, misunderstanding, rejection, withdrawal and even betrayal. His disciples were murmuring against this truth. Some started to leave Him and ceased to be His disciples. Their gesture was so eloquent of the stubbornness of their hearts.
Two months ago, the ADDU President wrote in his blog: “The Catholic Church is in trouble – even in Catholic Philippines…People have been leaving the Catholic Church. People are about to leave the Church. It is time, I think, for Mahar Mangahas to take out his social survey tools to help us understand what is happening” (Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ). Taking its cue from Fr. Tabora’s assertions, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) conducted a survey and found out that “One in every 11 Filipino Catholics, or 9.2 percent, sometimes considers leaving the Church”.
Why do you think some Catholics leave the Church? Fr. Tabora thinks that the following are the reasons: “Some may be exasperated with the RH debate. Others may be yearning for more palpable fellowship and experience of Christian communion. Yet others may be searching for greater depth and holiness as they search for God in this difficult world”. In other words, he said, “People are tired of the obstinate claim to absolute truth when the thinking world still searches for the truth”.
A few Catholics leave the Church because they could not swallow Her doctrines. Others think of leaving the Church because they lack a deeper understanding of their faith. But whatever their motives are, don’t you think it is illogical to conclude that if I don’t understand very well my faith, something is wrong with it; hence, I have to leave it? If you don’t understand Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, you don’t conclude that something is wrong with the theory. Yet, why would one think that something is wrong with the Catholic Church simply because a very few cannot understand or agree with Her teachings?
The scene at Capernaum takes place again today in the Philippine setting. History repeats itself. But let us look at the reaction of Jesus, so that we may learn how to react now in the face of this unfortunate exodus of few Catholics outside the Church.
When the disciples began to leave Him, did Jesus clarify His pronouncements with more convincing words? Did He say, “Actually, I was just speaking metaphorically”. No! Did He doubt the truth of what He revealed? When His disciples began to leave, did it come to His mind that perhaps what He said was wrong simply because it was not acceptable to everybody? No! Though His doctrine was “hard language”, Jesus never compromised the truth!
Today, we easily compromise the truth, our principles and convictions, our faith just to be acceptable to everybody. We’d rather silence our moral position on certain issues rather than to speak and be “politically incorrect”.When we don’t and we can’t understand some tenets of our faith, either we take it or leave it. Those who opted to leave it will never arrive at understanding and appreciating its beauty and experiencing the joy of believing. For us who opted to take it is bound to “rediscover the joy of faith”. The more we are confused, the more we should cling to Jesus and say with Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We now believe (even though we don’t understand) that you are the Holy One of God”. When we decide to cling to Jesus in the midst of our darkness, we shall begin to see light!