The people leading the Galatians astray did not have their best interests in mind:
Not even those having themselves circumcised observe the law themselves; they only want you to be circumcised so that they may boast of your flesh. But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. –Galatians 6:13-14, NAB
Why do preachers preach? For their own satisfaction, or with your best interests at heart? Whether they measure success by the number of seats filled, or by dollars in the offering plate, some religious leaders are doing it for all the wrong reasons.
This passage reminds me of my days floating between various non-denominational churches. Sure, they were great at drawing people to Christ and filling empty seats each week, but I often left feeling unfulfilled. They drew me in but did little to keep me there.
Often times, I felt like just a number. When I got frustrated with feeling that way, I sought out another church. No one took the time to help me develop my faith, so I moved on. Eventually, this led me to the Catholic faith where I have found a greater depth to my spiritual life than I have ever had before.
We, as Catholics, must be careful, as well. We can just as easily fall into the same trap. Many are leaving the Catholic Church for this same reason. They come to Mass each week, but no one helps them develop that into something more. If we do not reach out to them in time, they may eventually leave the Church because of it.
We often hear about the declining numbers filling the pews and the financial struggles of our local parishes, but we should not measure success this way. We are more than numbers; we are souls. Therefore, it is better to truly convert a handful of hearts than fill even the largest parish with unengaged parishioners.
Reading this page, you became another hit or visitor to this website. And at times, it’s easy for me to get drawn into the number of hits and visitors this website receives, or the number of likes it gets on Facebook. But you are more than just a statistic, and I would rather convert a handful of souls than reach millions of people. Verses like today’s (which sometimes have impeccable timing) remind me of exactly that.
May the bishops, priests, deacons, and lay ministers in your life always keep your best interests in mind. And if you are a religious leader yourself, never lose sight of the best interests of those you minister to. No one is just a number. We are all children of the Most High God.