Last night, a man at a checkout counter started telling me some alarming stories. About a crime around the corner earlier in the day, about crimes in his apartment building. It was all a bit jarring — and graphic. He obviously needed to talk. And when it was over, I simply said “God bless you.” I really didn’t have anything better. He’s got a job and is moving into a new place. I will be praying for him.
And so then he started telling me about his church a few blocks away. I was delighted he had a faith family and thanked him.
Why didn’t I tell him about the Catholic Church around the block from where we were standing? He shared. We must share!
Catholics, bring people to the Eucharist, already.
I thought of this man again this morning while reading the Vatican Radio translation of Holy Father Francis’s Saturday homily at Domus Sanctae Marthae inside the Vatican. During it, he said that “the Church is not a cultural organization that [includes] religion and social work.”
Yes, we serve our neighbor, but we are called to so much more. The Church is not merely a charity and a group that regroups on Sunday.
“The Church is the family of Jesus,” he said. “The Church confesses that Jesus is the Son of God come in the flesh: that is the scandal, that is the reason why they persecuted Jesus.”
Christ was “sentenced to death” because He is the Son of Man. He proclaimed that. And was killed for it. And willingly died for this truth, and our salvation.
Pope Francis said:
If we become ‘reasonable’ Christians, ‘social’ Christians, Christians who only do philanthropy, what will be the consequence? That we will never have martyrs: that will be the consequence.
We are called to a love whose allegiance is eternal.
The pope continued:
When, however, we Christians tell the truth, that “The Son of God is come, and was made flesh,” when we “preach the scandal of the Cross, persecutions will come, the Cross will come,” and that “will be fine,” for “such is our life”:“The fact that the Word came in the flesh… the Incarnation of the Word …” is, what “scandalizes those who persecute Jesus” and “what destroys the work of the devil.”
“We ask the Lord not to be ashamed to live with this scandal of the Cross. [We ask Him for] wisdom: the wisdom to ask not to be trapped by the spirit of the world.”
God became flesh. God died for our salvation. God takes residence in our hearts. God walks with us. God is here to be adored. God is our destination.
Everything revolves around this. Every blessing flows from this.
Is there anything else, really, worth surrendering our lives to?
How do we forget to issue an invitation to the Sacraments? How do we forget this is who we are? Sons and daughters of a God who loves us with endless mercy.
And yet we are known to give into the world around us for fear of imposing. And so we stop proposing! We don’t issue invites. We don’t radiate love.
We must go to Him and let Him transform us — nourished in the Sacraments and the Word — so that we might be His radiating light that is full of compassion, love, and fearlessness in the world. So we can be people whose love for Him knows no limits.
It’s just a proposal … but if we have faith, the choice we must make is clear, isn’t it?