In his book, Rome Sweet Home, Scott Hahn recounts the morning he met Blessed Pope John Paul II:
“I briefly explained (to the Holy Father) in about a minute’s time all about my pilgrimage of faith as an anti-Catholic Presbyterian minister who had become a Catholic just six years before. He listened carefully before giving me one more handshake, a blessing, and a Rosary. As I left the presence of Pope John Paul II- the one appointed by my heavenly Father and the eldest Brother to shepherd the covenant family of God on earth- I had a strong sense that God was saying, ‘Scott, the best is yet to come.’”
Those words- the best is yet to come– have remained with me and provided comfort in these days heading toward the papal conclave that will select the 266th successor of St. Peter. For in a world where every opinion is scattered throughout the internet as Gospel-truth, I must say that it is disheartening to hear the drumbeats against the Church. Over and over, we are told that clergy scandals and other moral failures are “proof” that the Church is not special, let alone divinely instituted by Jesus Christ.
But I wonder and ask.
Then why the secular hype? Why has seemingly every television camera and reporter been sent to cover an event of an institution so deeply flawed?
Perhaps the answer is simple. We watch because at our deepest core, we are drawn to the truth of Jesus Christ and know that Jesus did found His Church upon Peter (Mt 16:18-19). In St. John’s Gospel (Jn 8:31-32), our Lord reminds the Jews who had come to believe in him: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” Today, however, in our efforts to flee from the “constraining” truths of both natural and divine law, we have instead become like Pilate and declared that truth is relative. Your truth is your truth and mine is mine. If a man (woman) desires to “marry” another man (woman), let it be. If an unborn child is unwanted, unplanned, or simply inconvenient, then let it be destroyed. Over and over, in an effort to expand “truth” so that it may not offend, our path has become one whereby “truth” accommodates our every wish and desire.
As this Lenten conclave begins, it is true that there have been many failings by Church ministers that require healing, penance, forgiveness, and mercy. And while rightfully discouraged by these events, we should remember that Christ could have founded His Church upon angels but instead chose sinful human beings to work out His plan of salvation.
During this time, may we also recall the note regarding discipleship that Jesus has placed upon each of our hearts: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (Jn 15:18-19)
Again, so why the secular hype? Why the cameras and reporters?
Despite our sinfulness, maybe the Truth really does stand out in a world so turned against it. And now having caught our attention, it powerfully speaks to us deep within our hearts. To return to the words which God spoke to Professor Hahn, maybe, just maybe, the best is yet to come.