Grunting Isn’t An Act Of Faith
Thoughts on the First Readings – Joe Frankenfield
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Many years ago a friend of mine desperately wanted to play little league baseball. He prayed that God would get him on a team. God didn’t. Being, even then, the caring soul that I am, I speculated that even God couldn’t compensate for awesome klutziness. Ignoring my cleverness, he kept asking, “Why did he let them cut me?”
Gather a group of Christians for more than a few minutes and someone, somehow, will voice a problem with God’s reliability: typically someone has a friend in need for whom everyone has prayed without discernable results. An awkward silence ensues until someone else in the group grows anxious enough to proffer a stock defense of God; the rest grunt agreement though no one really buys it.
We Catholics often grumble that our Church doesn’t treat us as adults. Setting aside the accuracy of this complaint, it brings to mind a lesson that most of us learned early on. The crux of being an adult is taking responsibility for ourselves. Sometimes authority is happy to see us do that; sometimes not. How others accept the decision to take adult responsibility isn’t the issue.
My point is that grunts of agreement to teachings and answers that make no sense is a costly abdication of responsibility. Every time we roll our eyes and send our judgment out for coffee when authority hands down an opinion, we weaken our faith and our community.
We do our priest, our bishop, ourselves no favor when we hear seemingly senseless statements and close our ears in scorn. We weaken our unity and our power to do good. We weaken the gospel and we deny God’s Spirit in us which, after all, is what we really have to offer our world.
The idea here isn’t to buttonhole every priest about our every disagreement. The idea is that we undertake the effort of thinking through and taking responsibility for what we actually believe. It means discussing our thoughts with others who share our faith. It means acknowledging that agreeing and disagreeing has implications for the strength of our faith vision as well as the strength of our community.
There are many ways to respond to authority. Grunting is never helpful.