Where Are the Men?
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.” — Matthew 18:12-13
Over the years, in her zeal to create administratively efficient parishes and dioceses, the American Catholic Church has forgotten the above Gospel lesson. It is a lesson the Church better quickly remember since the future of Catholicism in this nation may hinge on recovering those men of the flock who have strayed from the fold.
How low are male Mass-attendance numbers? George Barna’s Index of Leading Spiritual Indicators states the following: “Of Americans in the mid-1990s…women are twice as likely to attend a church service during any given week.”
For years the American Catholic Church has operated with the attitude, “Our doors are always open,” and “If people need us they know where to find us.” Well, that approach has failed, and it is time the Church follow the evangelical examples set forth by Jesus Christ and by Pope John Paul II.
Jesus recognized that the only effective way to reach people is to meet them in their own backyards. Consider the recruiting tactics Jesus used. Case in point: Matthew’s Gospel describes how Jesus visits the tax office of Matthew and eats with “many tax collectors and sinners” (Mt. 9:10). Imagine the shock and appreciation of those men and women upon realizing that this holy man was breaking Judaic law and risking slander in order to evangelize them. Needless to say, Jesus’ outreach worked since Matthew became one of His 12 Apostles.
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