I’ve had countless conversations that began, “So what do Catholics believe about . . .?” When things weren’t rushed and I didn’t think I’d sound like a smart aleck, I’d reply, “Well, you’re Catholic; what do you think about . . . ?” Usually the response was, “Come on; you know what I mean. What do the Pope and bishops say?”
I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault but a lot of us have the idea that theology is an esoteric pursuit. Maybe a large professional clergy and a great number of male and female religious, maybe our history of excluding folks who don’t accept the Church’s official dogma, maybe something entirely different has caused that situation. Maybe our emphasis on community has the untended consequence of making us keep our thoughts to ourselves for fear of seeming weird and out of step. Whatever the cause, something makes many of us reticent about discussing out beliefs about and our relationship with God.
Discussions about God are always discussions about ourselves: what our lives mean, how we fit into things, what our possibilities are, what’s important and unimportant, the meaning of success and failure. Discussions about God are discussions about how we want to treat one another and ourselves. Discussions about God define us individually and communally.
I think we lose out on something valuable when we keep our thoughts about our relationship with God to ourselves. No one has all the answers about God and us. Everyone is searching. There are more and less helpful answers but even knowing which is which is difficult.
What’s certainly helpful is knowing that we’re not searching alone. Others will listen and respect our differing points of view and help us make sense of our thoughts. We benefit from one another’s thinking. Listening to others often opens doors previously unnoticed.
The gospel this weekend promises that God’s Spirit is at work in us all. It seems a waste to kneel or work or have a drink next to someone whom God is guiding on the search for insight and not at least ask how it’s going.