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Don't Run Away

Ever since I have moved back to Kansas, I have been terrorized by these GIANT wasps. I see them everywhere and I’m not a fan of normal sized wasps, so these ones make me run away EVERY TIME!

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After a few weeks of being scared out of my mind, I turned to google to see just how scared of these bugs I should be. It turns out, these are called Eastern Cicada Killers, Sphecius speciosus. Although their size and coloring, meant to scare off predators, can do just that to humans, these wasps are almost completely harmless. They can be found in the Eastern and Midwestern parts of the U.S., and as their name implies, they hunt cicadas. The males do not even have stingers, and the females are too busy digging holes and filling them with paralyzed cicadas to feed their babies to even notice humans. Unlike other wasp and bee species, cicada killers are not territorial and won’t sting you to protect their nest.

Not only are these creatures practically harmless to humans, they can also be good for the environment. Like any habitat, there needs to be a balance of predator/prey relationships making sure one species’ population doesn’t grow out of control. These wasps do just that, keeping the cicada population down which will in turn improve the health of the trees in the area. Cicadas can damage tree limbs when they lay their eggs, so making sure there are not too many can keep trees healthy.

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Even though I have read all of this information, it is going to take a while, if ever, for me to stop running away from them when I see them. I just have such a bad history with other wasps stinging me and these ones look even scarier than those. To a lot of people, the Catholic Church is just like this wasp. They have been hurt one too many times by “church-going people” and they have heard terrible things about the Church, making it seem like a scary thing that they want to stay away from.

This is a tragedy. The Catholic Church is supposed to be a home for the broken. It is a shelter for the weak. It is a comfort for those who feel unloved. Unfortunately, that is not what people see. Instead they see the Church as a scary old place with lots of rules telling them all of the fun things they can’t do.

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As someone who loves the Church with her whole heart, it is heartbreaking to know that others have this view and struggle to see it the way that I do. With so many in the world spreading this negative image of the Church, it’s easy to see why people might have this negative image. The only way to counteract those feelings is to show them the good that the Church and the people in it can do, to show them that the image the world is showing them is wrong. Just like me being unable to see past the wasp’s colors and size, even though I’ve read that they are harmless and good for the environment, sometimes words aren’t enough. We can’t just tell people that Christianity is good and that they should be a part of it.

How do we show them? Well, remember those things I said that the Church should be: home for the broken, shelter for the weak, comfort for those who feel unloved? We need to be those things. When we see someone who has been broken down by life, we need to be there to love them and help them through that hard time any way that we can, through time or service. When we see someone who is weakened and others with more power are taking advantage of them, we need to stand up for them. We need to fight for them and protect them from those who would do otherwise. Then finally, we need to love, in every circumstance of every day. This one seems to be the hardest. It feels good to help those who are in need, but it’s not always as pleasant to be nice to people. It’s not always the weak that need love and kindness. Often it is the powerful and cruel who got to be that way because they never saw authentic Christian love. They may be who need you the most.

We cannot just accept that the world sees the Church as scary or something to run away from. We must fight every day to break that stigma. We must do everything in our power to show them the truth. As you go throughout this week, ask the Holy Spirit to show you opportunities where you can help fix the public image of Christianity. Then ask the Holy Spirit to help you do it well. You may be someone’s only interaction with the Church, help them to see that it is something worth running towards instead of away from.

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