Letters to Jesus (Church, Religion, and Sacraments)-18
You were sent to show us how to live. What You showed us through Your teachings and the actions of Your life is the God-given foundation of the Church – Your movement. You, Your teachings, and Your life expressed for all time the will of God for mankind. No church or institutional religion can do better than to stick zealously to this. The fact is that most churches say this is exactly what they do – the will if God. But it’s also a fact (and a perturbing one) that the will of God is often unrecognizable in what they teach and what they do. This is one reason why I believe religion is meant to be used as a bridge to transcend itself as we grow spiritually to new levels.
There is much about organized religion that perpetuates a cocoon ofstatus quo spirituality – a cocoon meant to be shed and from which a more glorious being can emerge. Whatever is not ignored in what others say and do has consequences. Within ourselves these consequences can be accepted, rejected, enhanced, diminished, modified, praised, slandered, challenged, adopted, etc., etc.
There have been monumental consequences to what You said and did. These consequences come to us both individually and communally as church. We come to them individually by observing the person(s) we are with at any given time. Communally we are giveninterpretations of these consequences by those so empowered by an organized religion. Here, inescapably, enter the political aspects. If men like Fr. Eugene Kennedy decry the ineptitudes of institutional religion to meet the needs of its flock, it is because of politicizing the consequences of God’s will.
Man has a deep longing to be complete, to be fulfilled. It is a lofty goal which we never completely reach because of our humanity; and one consequence of our humanity is what we have made of religion. Thus, that which religion would not do, it often does: it prevents us from higher levels of completeness and fulfillment rather than assisting us on the journey in ways it might otherwise purport. Religion can, indeed, be the opiate of the people when it lulls us into a sleep of complacence and self-satisfaction – and this is what it often does, or what we allow it to do. What the church unwittingly provides is a challenge to overcome its lethargy if one is to move on.
Is it axiomatic that the more sophisticated organized religion becomes, the more political and less in touch with its people it becomes? There must ultimately be recognition and acceptance of what organized religion is based upon and, too, a recognition and acceptance of what it doesn’t offer. There is sifting to be done becauseit has grown to contain much that is not of what You said, or did, or taught.
Religion moves us from point A to point B with varying degrees of effectiveness. It does not venture to guide us to point C. We are on our own for that!