The Flight from Christ
September 24, 2017
One of the major obstacles that keeps people from coming to the faith for the first time, or returning to the faith once they’ve drifted away, is the mistaken notion that the Church is only for those who are already devout, prayerful, clean-living and “respectable” folk. Many people have a real fear of feeling unwelcome because of their past sins, their ignorance of the faith, or they fact that they aren’t yet perfect.
This is something that we have to work very hard at as a parish if a) we want to survive into the future; and b) want to live in keeping with the commandments of Our Lord. The Church has never been about cultivating a select, private, inward-focusing “club,” but rather about helping people to bind together to find the presence and mercy of Christ in the sacraments and the Christian community.
The trick is to find in ourselves or others those who are “in flight from Christ” because we find it so difficult to believe that Christ can and will actually forgive us – especially in the beautiful sacrament of confession. There is kind of a curious dynamic at work in many of those who are honestly searching for God. On the one hand, people are very hungry to establish some real, meaningful relationship with God. On the other hand, for many reasons, people want to run away from Him in fear.
There is a prolific author named Ronda Chervin who converted from Judaism and wrote many books in the 1970s about understanding what God’s love really means.
Here is an excerpt from one of those excellent books. They are sobering words that we should take to heart. It is my hope and prayer that it will motivate someone to come back to confession and back to Christ’s Church.
It is not the anointing of the good which is most dramatic; rather it is the final absolution and reconciliation of those who have spent their lives in flight from love and now tremble at the confrontation with the unfailing love of Christ. Think of how skillfully a man will avoid some young girl he seduced and betrayed. The more he tries to forget, the more guilty he feels. Imagine what it would be like if it turns out that such a man’s life depended on this very person’s forgiveness. Thus we can get a vivid image of what it must feel like to be at the verge of death confronting the figure of Christ. At such a moment of fear, what could [be enough] to convince him that he will be saved? A promise of forgiveness would help, but how much more reassuring if she were actually present to forgive him. This assurance Christ longed to give to his beloved betrayers. Forgive them for they know not what they do! A man or woman whose life was one long flight from him can yet be reconciled in love if only his final offer of forgiveness is not spurned; and it is this hope which sends priests out to brave the contempt of hardened sinners, bringing them the offer of Christ’s visible reconciling sacrament.