Pastoral Vision Letter #5
Does this scenario sound familiar? It’s Saturday morning, the one day a week to sleep in. Nothing can come between you and your comfy bed when suddenly there’s a knock at the door. It’s those pesky Jehovah Witnesses! You pray for them to go away, but they keep knocking. “Why today,”you ask yourself. “Why must they come and shove their religion down my throat? I wish I knew what to say, then I’d show them! Maybe, Father can come get rid of them!”
Paul tells Timothy to not be ashamed of his faith. But, Timothy is a Saint, why would he possibly feel ashamed? The truth is, we are all tempted to shy away from the faith sometimes. We see faith as something personal; not part of polite conversation. Praising God is something you do at church, and, even sometimes at home, right? Wrong! Our Discipleship must shine through our every word and action. There’s no special prayer, book, retreat or event that holds the great “secret of life” because faith is not a secret; it’s a life-long commitment to knowing and loving Jesus. To be a Christian means that we choose to be formed and informed in the ways of Christ and his Church every day. That we live a life-changing relationship with Jesus.
Building Our Community by a Renewed Commitment to Formation
(2 Timothy 1:8)
Statistics show that about half of those who go to church (in all denomination) do not know why they go. While these statistics are disheartening, they also offer an exciting opportunity to grow in our knowledge and love of Christ and His Church! They challenge us to take the time to know, understand and live His teachings. We cannot love someone, or live a faith, we don’t know. If we want to renew our Church, we must renew ourselves; we must make a commitment to study the faith without excuses.
To accomplish this, we must first overcome the consumeristic mentality that has crept into our Church. We’ve transformed faith from an act of love to an obligation based on punishment and recompense; we believe in order for God to bless us! We pray in order to get what we want! We serve or give, not because it’s our Christian duty, but, because of the favors, recognition or special treatment that will follow. This mentality is most noticeable when it comes to the Sacraments. We church-shop for the easiest, cheapest, and most convenient way of getting them done. Have we reduced Sacraments to nothing more than a Christian TO DO list? But, we don’t stop there, we also argue, haggle, and manipulate our way into getting what we want, as if being rude and demanding are a prerequisite for Christian living? “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind... discern what is the will of God, what is good, pleasing and perfect”(Rom 12:2). Is it really a bad thing to know our faith? Is it asking too much?
I challenge all of us to take advantage of the many opportunities our Church offers for growth in Christian maturity. To take time to attend at least some type of formation. Can we make our faith a priority? Can we make a commitment to remove the barriers that keep us from knowing and responding to the Good News of Christ? There is an urgent need for all of us to get serious about being formed in the faith, because the falsities of this life have made us too busy and distracted to remember our baptismal responsibility to Discipleship.