Remember Groucho Marx’ quip that he wouldn’t want to join a club that would have him as a member…
It reminds me of a curious fact about belonging to the Catholic Church. there is a desire in the human heart that want wants to belong to the club. We want to sit at the high table, belong to the inner circle, fit in with the establishment, belong to the ‘in’ crowd, and be among the ones who make the decisions, call the shots and rule the roost. On the other hand, we also desire just the opposite. We rightly suspect the inside circle. We don’t want to compromise our integrity to get in, and believe those who are ‘in’ have done just that. Instead we want to belong to the outsiders, identify with the little guy and be a revolutionary. We want to be subversive, overturn the smug, complacent crowd and we cheer when Jesus turns over the tables in the temple.
The delightful thing about being a Catholic is that you can have both at once. As an ordinary Catholic you are part of the biggest, oldest establishment in the world. Here’s an outfit that has been around since the time of the Roman Emporers, been in the position of power in the world for the last two thousand years. As a Catholic your top man is a world class religious leader, theologian, philosopher and spokesman for all that is beautiful, good and true.
On the other hand, you belong to a church which has always, somewhere and at all times been a persecuted minority. As a Catholic you belong (from the world’s perspective) to a dangerous subversive sect. You stand up for justice, for peace and against the culture of death. You belong to a group who go bravely to their death as they stand against the tyranny, idiocy and cruelty of humanity’s regimes. As an ordinary Catholic you are called to be at once a child of the King and a follower of the most dangerous revolutionary the world has ever seen.
Viva Christo Rey!