The Lord has made laws for His people. He gave the Commandments on Mt. Sinai. He sent His Son to found the Church and endow Her with the Holy Spirit. By the ordinances He has laid down, the Lord guides His People through every twist and turn of history. His Law teaches us how to believe, how to pray, how to live, how to organize ourselves.
As a people, we show ourselves to be intelligent and wise by obeying the divine laws. When the world sees the People of God—an enormous communion with members in every nation on earth—when the world sees us humbly and peaceably submitting to the divine rule, heeding the commandments, following solemn and sacred procedures in order to deliberate about how to move through history—when the confused, distressed, and fuss-bothering citizens of this fallen world see the serene obedience of God’s People—well, it astonishes them.
Can it really be this way? they wonder. Can such an invisible authority govern a people so well? An authority who can instill such confidence, who makes obedience such a sweet burden on his subjects? And is it really possible for us human beings to find such an honest and forthright authority in which we can believe, so that we can join something bigger than our petty little selves, and be a part of something grand?
Yes. We say yes. It is possible. Because the One Who made the rules we follow is God. God sent His Son to the world—the most fascinating, the most generous, the most true, the most sublime man who has ever walked the earth. And this Son of God forms the Church, like a shipwright constructs a solid vessel out of gnarled tree trunks.
We people on board this Barque of Peter—we are sinners. We make mistakes. The stewards, boatswains, and petty officers all make mistakes; sometimes big ones. But that doesn’t challenge our faith in the Captain and His rules. Our sins only make us trust His rules all the more. We know that, unlike our intentions, the intentions of the captain of this ship are perfectly pure, and the course upon which He has set us—it is true.
On Sunday I will try to speak a little more about what our situation as a Church looks like to me—the Catholic Church, undergoing a transition in the Apostolic See, springtime 2013. As you may recall, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, I have been trying to study the history a little bit. It strikes me really as altogether uncanny that, just as the papacy underwent a transition of occupant during the first half of 1963, after the Council had only just gotten underway the preceding fall, so we will have a new pope in the first half of 2013, just as the commemoration of the fiftieth of Vatican II, and the Year of Faith, has only just gotten underway, starting last fall.
Anyway, the main thing, I think, is: The Church finds Herself at a wonderful moment when Her rules, Her procedures—Her tried-and-true way of doing things: they will impress the world anew this spring. Many of our brothers and sisters who have wandered away from Christ, or who have never known Him—they will marvel at how wise and intelligent the People of God really is. Because we know how to obey the Lord with patience and follow His rules.