The questions of “Where are we to go?” and “What do we seek?” are front and center in both of today’s readings from the Book of Joshua and the Gospel of John.
First Joshua. He addressed the people: “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.” But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord for the service of other gods. For it was the Lord, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery.”
Then in John, after the disciples hear some tough preaching, Jesus says to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?”
After the recent release of the report from Pennsylvania on the decades of clerical abuse of minors, which follows on the same systemic crisis inflicting the entire church in Chile and Australia and so many other places, do we blame anyone who asks, “Where are we to go?” With all the political hyperbole that saturates the airwaves, do we blame anyone who asks, “Who are we to believe?”
There have many been periods of darkness and despair in times past. We too often misplace our hopes and dreams in institutions, rituals, leaders, ideologies or any other golden calves. And they invariably disappoint us, if not worse. So, where do we go?
The choice to follow Jesus is ours to make. We can leave. But, as Peter says, “Where else are we to go?” We could hear that as a snarky remark or we can hear it as a realization that it is only Jesus who will not disappoint, bully, manipulate, abuse or shame us. If we are hurt, disappointed and angry, let’s go to Him in quiet prayer and let Christ hold us and assure us that He is our savior…not any other person or institution or ideology or political party.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.