When we'd rather sit in our own sin than be free.
Before you have children, the idea of 'other people's poop' can seem very daunting. Changing diapers, if you've never done it before, is the dividing line, a rite of passage. I watched a new parent yesterday change his one day old baby girl's poop diaper. Just by watching him I could tell it was not just her first diaper, but his too. He actually looked for gloves first. I can assure you, he never will again. Not because we all made fun of him for it (which we totally did) but because he's one of us now, a parent. With that first diaper he came to a powerful realization. Poop happens, and when it does, it must be dealt with. Sure, there are some things they don't tell you, like that poop is deceptively tricky at getting down bathtub drains. Or that at some point you will be googling "How to get poop off of..." and the google suggestions for finishing that sentence will be so numerous and varied that you will suddenly realize that you are now part of a great and powerful fellowship. Or that you will have to pause in the middle of your dinner to wipe a toddlers bum, hundreds of times, and you will without hesitation and then return to your taco as if it never happened. Sure, it's gross. Yes, sometimes you will gag and/or cry. But it must be dealt with and you are the chosen one who has to deal with it. I think the fact that it takes a few years before little people are able to successfully handle their own waste is one of the ways that parenting teaches us love. Somewhere between that first diaper and the first time you actually ask the question "Is this poop or chocolate?" something happens. You move from being grossed out and, lets be honest, a little scared to 'this is not a big deal." Why did we laugh when the new dad looked for gloves first? Because we've been there and we know that in a week or two he won't think twice, because there is no glove big enough. He'll do it because he loves her. He'll do it because she can't do it herself. He'll do it because one day she may have to do it for her own children.
This morning as I was changing the 2 year olds diaper I had a realization. Before I explain it to you, you must know that two year olds take extreme offense to having their diaper changed. Maybe its because they are starting to have the idea that there is another way of going about this, or maybe they just don't like having to stay still for that long but whatever the reason, its a full contact sport for both the child and the parent. First you've got to catch the child (which may sound easy but those litter buggers are fast and I am increasingly less so). Once you catch them you literally have to wrestle them down with one hand while simultaneously taking their clothes and diaper off, getting a new diaper, cleaning them, keeping their hands out of it and getting them dressed again. Imagine something similar to a soldier dismantling and reassembling a gun in under 1 minute, plus poop. Until you get really good at it, you wear a lot of excrement. If you've ever gone over to a friends house and their toddler is in only a diaper, this is why. Sometimes pants are just not worth it. Anyway, while I was changing this kids diaper he was literally kicking and screaming and I thought to myself " This is irony. I would almost rather be doing ANYTHING in the world and this is the gratitude he's showing me." I actually said out loud to the child "Do you think this is what I want to be doing? Neither one of us is happy about this, but it must be done!" Then I laughed because as usual God used my moment in parenting to reveal to me that this is how I act when He's trying to help me change. It's uncomfortable, it's inconvenient and in the moment it seems like the worst thing thats ever happened to me. I kick and scream and try to resist. Yes, this is how we treat our heavenly Father when He wants to rid us of sin. It's also how we treat our mother, the Church.
I'm always baffled when people who are offended by the Church's moral teachings get stark raving mad when she declares them. I wonder what advantage they think She's getting out of teaching difficult and unpopular things. Mostly, the Church just wants to love us and to see us flourish, like a good mother does. But, also like a good mother, she cannot sit back and let us sit in our own sin. She will be the one to deal with it when no one else wants to, not because it's easy or fun or popular, but because she loves us. So, we kick and scream and run and she does the thing that she would probably rather not be doing but that must be done. Change is hard but it is utterly necessary if we are to flourish.
Yes, there are bad people who hold positions of power in the Church. Yes, people hurt people, they have agendas, they seek evil things. Even those people have poop. But thats the thing about this Church that Jesus has left us, it is salvific even while being made up of broken people, because Holy Mother Church can use even those who are themselves sinful to proclaim a message of healing to the world. The Catholic Church is an expert in humanity. Her job is to continue the mission of Jesus Christ who loved, and was kind and who turned over tables and called people out of their sin and who overcame it by being covered in it.
When we think the Church should stay out of our moral lives, we miss the point entirely. Thats precisely where we need her the most, in the midst of all of our ... stuff.