We often hear people say, "I cannot go to Mass every Sunday because it is not convenient for me." We hear some people say, "I cannot join the Pastoral Council or that other committee because it is not convenient for me."..."Oh Father, honestly I would love to help but it is not convenient for me." People complain, "Oh, the Mass time is not convenient; my children cannot come to PSR because it is not convenient for us." Now, the question is, will it ever be convenient?
The hard truth is that the true life of the Gospel cannot be a convenient one. The Lord himself did not propose a convenient Christian living. There is no place in the scriptures where it is written or suggested that you should love God and express your faith only when it is convenient. In fact, the word convenient should have no place when it comes to authentic witness to the Gospel.
Too often in recent decades, we Catholics - both clergy and lay - have made ourselves guilty of "kneeling before the world", in Jacques Maritain's famous words. We find ourselves often softening the Christian message of the cross, the call to holiness, the reality that all men and women are under the judgement of God because these truths aren't considered respectful in a secularized, polarized society.
I have observed that our pervasive form of genuflection to the world is a pragmatic "reductionism" in offering the Gospel. To gain a public hearing, many Catholics find themselves sacrificing the pride of their faith and beliefs on the altar of unnecessary accommodation.
Pope John Paul II knew this kind of compromise very well: "The temptation today is to reduce Christianity to merely human wisdom, a pseudo-science of well-being. In our heavily secularized world a 'gradual secularization of salvation' has taken place, so that people strive for the good of man, but man who is truncated, reduced to his merely horizontal dimension."
Here is my take. We Christians, most especially, all of us who are Catholics need to examine our consciences. We can never allow ourselves to offer an abridged version of the Gospel. We must know now that the Catholic faith is much more than just another public philosophy or useful set of social programs. In fact, the Church is not an association of social workers. The Church is first and foremost a community of believers and disciples. The Church's social service has no meaning outside her Christ-centered faith.
I love the Gospel! I hope you do too.