Waking the Sleeping Giant
My grandfather has always been a hard working man. Constantly going out of his way to serve his family. Yet, starting about ten years ago we started to see him decline. He began to sleep-a lot. He was diagnosed 7 years later with dementia and was recently put into a facility for veterans who suffer from dementia as well. One thing I came to see in him was that the more you sleep, the more you’ll want to sleep. Recently we visited him and the nurse said to us, “he sleeps all the time. It worries me.” Yet that was his normal routine. The more he sleeps, the more he just wants to sleep. I think this principal applies to many of us.
I have heard the Church referred to as the sleeping giant many times. I have come to understand that to be a great analogy for the Church in our day. Yet, I think the analogy fails a little a bit. I don’t think the entire church is asleep, and has never been. We refer to the Church as the mystical body of Christ. The Church, like the scripture says has many members. If that is the case then I would surmise that only certain parts of the body are asleep.
Say you fall asleep on your arm and you wake up. Many people would have the same experience of feeling like the arm is deadened. You may not be able to feel it if you touch it. It may feel heavy and not move normally. As the blood begins to flow more freely through the limb you may get a sensation of pins and needles. For many people this hurts. It is not a pleasant experience. Yet after a few minutes your arm is back to normal and you can freely move it and feel things again. Can this experience be applied to the faithful?
A priest friend of mine once preached at Mass about a hot button issue. He only briefly spoke on the issue, however, two people walked out during his homily. Family members of the two who walked out came and spoke to him after Mass, accusing him of speaking out of line and actually “against the Church’s teaching.” When he was able to finally get the answer as to what the supposed heretical thing was that he said, it turned out that it revolved around what they thought Pope Francis was teaching. Yet, what they had read was completely false (See “Just Ignore Everything You Read About Pope Francis“). They were actually completely off the mark. These family members refused to listen to anything this priest said based solely on what they had perceived with no actual study or proof. For years these parishioners have been coming to church and receiving a watered down Gospel and have become to accustomed to their spiritual lethargy that when this priest simply mentioned absolute truth, they immediately reacted. It was like a rush of blood back to the limb that had been asleep for so long.
This same priest received many thank you and praises that same day for a great homily. Rightfully so. Yet, the experience of these people shows that while some people are awake, some are not. Some are also more awake then others. This also shows that some who have been asleep do not want to be awakened. What is my point?
For years, the professional Catholic crowd has been banging the drum of “be pastoral” and “create dialogue”, and while these things are good in principle, they have become for many the end of all of their endeavours. The fear of creating offence overwhelms these poor tepid, modestly paid souls, and they will sooner chew out someone for speaking the truth than chew out real social and spiritual injustice. Yet, no matter how many programs are formed to try to avoid offending anyone, there will and should always be someone who experiences discomfort when coming in contact with the truth. Jesus makes this reality clear in the scriptures. The lives of the Saints show over and over again that you need to sometimes just speak the truth and let the chips fall as they may for real fruit to be borne. So speak the truth, always in love, but speak it nonetheless. It’s time to awaken the sleeping body of Christ. The world needs us. Speak life into dry bones!