Pope Francis tells us that following the world leads to rejecting Christ.
The cheap grace of following the world in Jesus’ name is not grace at all. It is a lie we tell ourselves to keep from having to “chose this day whom” we “will serve.”
Sadly, it is also a delusion. Trendy jesus, pragmatic jesus and all the other false messiahs these theological snake-oil salesmen are selling having nothing to do with the real Jesus Christ Who was crucified on Calvary and calls each succeeding generation of Christians to “pick up your cross and follow Me.”
Following the real Jesus exacts a price. As the Light is smothered by the ever-encroaching darkness of humanity’s fealty to its own passions rather than the living God, the price for those who do not accede to the darkness goes up exponentially.
We may be willing to be friends with those who serve other gods, but they will not be friends with us. We may find our careers truncated, our friendships forfeit, our lives troubled in many ways when we follow Christ. He told us this would happen. If the world hates you, remember that it first hated me, He said.
The anger directed at us is just a side-blow, a glancing near miss of the object of the real hatred, which is satan’s hatred for the Savior of Humankind. Those who attack people for following Christ, even if they only do it with rudeness and exclusion, are the unwitting pawns of this evil.
Our task is always to be the witting servants of the good. God has no use and no desire for “unwitting pawns.” We can blunder into following satan, but we always chose to follow Christ.
Life in Christ is an intentional, moment by moment, living out of the faith. It can only be done through grace, and that grace does not come from us. There is no intelligence, courage or intuition we possess in and of ourselves that can equip us for following Jesus in a post Christian world.
The capacity to follow Him is a free gift of divine grace. He equips us to run the race that is before us if we ask Him daily and trust Him constantly. When we fail, all we have to do is reach out to Him and ask for forgiveness. That’s all there is to life in Christ: Just say “yes” to Him, and keep saying “yes” as each new challenge arises.
This is the Living Lord Who stood before Pilate, endured the blows and humiliations, hung from the cross and died. He understands everything He is asking of us because He has already endured all of it and far worse for us. He can help us on the Way as someone who has walked it Himself.
Blessed John Paul II is one of my favorite thinkers. He said quite a few things which I think are worth pondering. I’ve listed some of them below for your prayerful reflection.
Have a blessed Saturday.
Following Christ in Daily Life
“When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.”
“True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement.”
“The evil of our times consists in the first place in a kind of degradation, indeed in a pulverization, of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person.”
“Forgiveness is above all a personal choice, a decision of the heart to go against the natural instinct to pay back evil with evil.”
The Value of Human Beings and Human Life
“The commandment you shall not kill even in its more positive aspects of respecting, loving, and promoting human life, is binding on every individual human being.” ~Evangelium Vitae-Gospel of Life Pope John Paul II-1995
“While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in it’s final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of ” the strong” against the weak who have no choice but to submit”.~Evangelium Vitae
“Man’s life comes from God: it is his image and imprint, as sharing in his breath of life. God therefore is the sole Lord of this life: Man cannot do with it as he wills.” ~Evangelium Vitae
‘The Gospel of life must be proclaimed and human life defended in all places and all times.” ~Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics- National Conference of Catholic Bishops (United States) 1998
The Family and Same-Sex Marriage
“It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this [gay marriage] is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.”
“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”
“Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family – a domestic church. ”
“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.”
“The family, as the fundamental and essential educating community, is the privileged means for transmitting the religious and cultural values which help the person to acquire his or her own identity. Founded on love and open to the gift of life, the family contains in itself the very future of society; its most special task is to contribute effectively to a future of peace.”
“The cemetery of the victims of human cruelty in our century is extended to include yet another vast cemetery, that of the unborn.”
“Finally, true freedom is not advanced in the per missive society, which confuses freedom with licence to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace. There are many examples of this mistaken idea of freedom, such as the elimination of human life by legalized or generally accepted abortion.”
“Abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, for example, risk reducing the human person to a mere object: life and death to order, as it were!”
“Euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person.” ~Evangelium Vitae, 1995
“Similarly, euthanasia and assisted suicide are never acceptable acts of mercy. They always gravely exploit the suffering and desperate, extinguishing life in the name of the “quality of life” itself.”
~Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics-National Conference of Catholic Bishops(United States)-1998
“Those who advocate euthanasia have capitalized on people’s confusion, ambivalence and even fear about the use of modern life-prolonging technologies. Being able to choose the time and manner of one’s death, without regard to what is chosen is presented as the ultimate freedom.” ~Statement on Euthanasia- National Conference of Catholic Bishops (United States) 1991
“The sickness of a family member, friend or neighbor is a call to Christians to demonstrate true compassion, that gentle and persevering sharing in another’s pain.” ~Ad Limina Apostolorum to Bishops of the United States-John Paul II -
“Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power … Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development.”
“The distinctive mark of the Christian, today more than ever, must be love for the poor, the weak, the suffering.”
“I cannot fail to note once again that the poor constitute the modern challenge, especially for the well-off of our planet, where millions of people live in inhuman conditions and many are literally dying of hunger. It is not possible to announce God the Father to these brothers and sisters without taking on the responsibility of building a more just society in the name of Christ.”
“Hence in every case, a just wage is the concrete means of verifying the justice of the economic system… It is not the only means of checking, but it is a particuarly important one and in a sense the key means.”
“Wages must enable the worker and his family to have access to a truly human standard of living in the material, social, cultural and spiritual orders. It is the dignity of the person which constitutes the criterion for judging work, not the other way around.”
“Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death.” ~Evangelium Vitae
Today is the beginning of Vocations week.
Many people have a particular vocation. Some people are called to a vowed life as a priest or religious. Others are called to marriage or to create a lay ministry. While these particular vocations are a great gift to all of us, there is a spiritual danger in over-emphasing them. The danger lies in the fact that an over-emphasis on particular vocations can make us forget the first and universal vocation of all Christians.
Whatever we do, if we are Christians, we all have the one overarching vocation of accepting God’s love and living in the light of eternity. We are destined for greater things than whatever we do in the here and now. This life is just a prelude for us. However, it is an important, defining prelude.
Our call as Christians is, first and foremost, to live our lives in the acceptance of His transforming love. Our first job is to say “yes” to the God Who made us, Who died for us and Who calls us to Him until we come home.
I have experienced this call. Every single day of the 17 years of my anti-God period, He called me. It was a pull that never stopped or wavered, no matter what I did or said to the contrary.
Our first and essential vocation as Christians is to simply say “yes” to this call. Our most important vocation is the vocation of beloved children of a loving God.
Everything else flows from that. We are Christians and our first and primary vocation is to let Him love us and to live in the flow of that love. We don’t have to spend hours and days of our lives “discerning God’s will for our lives.”
My experience has been that if God wants you to do something, you’re not going to be able to get out of it. So don’t worry about it.
The God Who called you from death to life can and will call you to any work He has for you. You don’t have to go chasing after Him. He’s right there with you, all the time.
So relax. Accept and believe that living in His love is your vocation. He will use you as He wishes if you just do what He tells you. But first you have to live humbly in that love and walk faithfully in the “yes” you said when you gave yourself to Him.
Your vocation, whether your are a priest, bishop, nun, monk, or housewife, is to live your life and do your deeds as a Christian. If you are an attorney, then your vocation as a Christian is to be an honest, hard-working and generous Christian attorney. If you are a policeman, your job is to never cut corners, never lie, follow the evidence without trying to alter it to fit your ideas, and be an honest, hard-working Christian policeman. Whatever you do, your job, your vocation, is to do the work in front of you as if you were doing it for Christ the Lord, because in fact, you are.
Any job a true Christian puts his or her hand to is a vocation if they do it for the Lord. But the glossiest, most high-profile ministry is dust that blows away with the slightest breeze if they do it for themselves. Our vocation is to live in His love and to follow Him. All the rest will come to us if we do that.
In my opinion, the highest vocation any of us can know is not founding some ministry. It is raising our own children. If you are a father or a mother, then your first vocation in this life is to protect, shape and love the precious lives God has entrusted to you. It is your vocation before God to bring them into a productive and Christian adulthood. If you don’t take care of your own children, nothing else you do in life matters all that much.
Family is eternity work. It is also the dearest blessing in this life.
Today is the first day of vocations week. If you are a Christian, your first and most important vocation is simply letting God love you from death into life. Your second step in that vocation is to follow Him all your days. The third is to do the work that is in front of you in the light of that love and that followership. Whatever you do, do it for the Lord and don’t worry about the consequences. He will take care of that part.
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.