I am currently reading Frank Sheed’s “What Difference Does Jesus Make?” published in 1971.
I do wonder how a Sheed book can possibly ever go out of print. I picked this up as a used OSV 1972 edition.
Next, I wonder how hardly anything has changed in 50 years.
He describes talking at a Catholic high school to several hundred Freshmen and sophomores and asking them “Apart from obeying the law of the Church is there any point in going to Mass?” No one was able to offer a reason, and they were trying. Some even had a devotion to the Mass tangentially.
He doesn’t mention the name of the school since this was his experience everywhere he spoke.
I was reading this before the start of the Eucharistic Conference in my diocese today, held in my parish church. I have no doubt that the attendees today could have given good answers to Sheed’s question. I also think there is probably also some more awareness of Jesus in the Eucharist that young Catholics would point to.
Still, there is what Sheed calls the “Dimming of Christ”, hiding him in abstractions and taking sides in what are both/ands.
Mostly I am reflecting on how I have dimmed Christ in my own life making abstractions. I can reflect on the title “What Difference Does Jesus Make?”, and say honestly that it makes a difference each day in my life. I can’t imagine my life without him now other than thinking that I would have fallen into various debaucheries. But, if he is going to make a difference it can’t be a status quo one.
But in this time of crisis which could become chaos, the Church is afflicted with the same problems as the world. With her children questioning her authority and even her relevance, she is preoccupied with her own renewal, tormented about her own restructuring. In what shape the Church may emerge I do not know. But Christ needs no renewal, defects in the Church’s structure are not defects in him. His message needs no recasting, only deeper understanding of what it has in it for the world’s needs. The lament he uttered over Jerusalem he might well be uttering over us (“If only you had known what things make for your peace”) (Luke 19.42).