“I don’t need a Church to tell me I’m wrong where I already know I’m wrong; I need a Church to tell me I’m wrong where I think I’m right.” ~ G.K. Chesterton
My dad was a very bull-headed man who was never wrong. That’s right. He was never wrong. At least from his perspective. And God help the son — or the wife — who might try to point out the fact that he was wrong. Just for example, I remember many a “short trip” that turned into a long drive because dad got lost. Sometimes, mom would tell him that he was approaching the exit he would need to take. He would think otherwise and continue driving and, before you know it, we were in another state.
You think he would stop and ask for directions? Absolutely not. Because to stop and ask for directions would admit that he was wrong and that he was lost. There were many a time when he would pull to the side of the road, consult the map, and then yell at my mom, the “navigator”, for not telling him when he needed to take an exit. Even if all of us in the car would say that mom did tell him that, many times no less, he would declare that she never did, that it was her fault that we were lost.
I have met many people in my thirty-seven years as a priest who were just like my dad. I tried to point out to them why what they are saying in regard to the faith was wrong and what they needed to do in order to live the faith completely. They treated me like I was my mom, the useless navigator. Of course, when they ended up in a complete quandary, I got blamed again for not telling them what they needed to know even though I told them what they absolutely needed to hear.
It is tough being a witness of Jesus Christ. The world does not want to hear what we have to say; however, the world absolutely needs to hear what we have to say because the world missed its exit a long time ago and is wandering aimlessly: too afraid, too ashamed, or just way too lost to ask for directions.
If we stand up and try to give direction to anyone who is steeped in the world, it might not go well for us. That doesn’t excuse us from the responsibility to do so. However, we cannot give proper instruction and witness until we are sure that we are schooled in the faith and headed in the right direction.
FAITH ACTION: Reflect upon the commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ and try to see if you might be in error in any of your ways of thinking. If you are not sure, consult with a religious leader.