For Sunday, January 20, 2013
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
National Public Radio began a series this week titled "Losing Our Religion: The Growth of the Nones." The Pew Research Center released a study in October 2012, showing that nearly twenty percent of Americans (about forty-six million people) indicate that they have no religious affiliation. For young adults (18–29 year-olds) that percentage rises to almost one-third. On Tuesday's installment of the series on Morning Edition, co-host David Greene interviewed a number of young adults about their perspectives on faith and belief.
One of the young adults, twenty-seven-year-old Kyle Simpson has a tattoo on the inside of his wrist that says "Salvation from the cross" in Latin. He said during the interview, "It's a little troublesome now when people ask me. I tell them and they go, 'Oh, you're a Christian,' and I try to skirt the issue now. They go, 'What does that mean?' and it's like, "It's Latin for 'I made a mistake when I was 18.'
"When I first got the tattoo I remember thinking, 'Oh, this will be great because when I'm having troubles in my faith I will be able to look at it, and I can't run away from it.' And that is exactly what is happening.
"I don't [believe in God] but I really want to. That's the problem with questions like these is you don't have anything that clearly states, 'Yes, this is fact,' so I'm constantly struggling. But looking right at the facts—evolution and science—they're saying, no there is none. But what about love? What about the ideas of forgiveness? I like to believe they are true and they are meaningful.
"I think having a God would create a meaning for our lives, like we're working toward a purpose—and it's all worthwhile because at the end of the day we will maybe move on to another life where everything is beautiful. I love that idea."
You'll want to listen to the whole story (or read the transcript) and follow the series in the days to come.
Kyle's sentiments about being a Christian (or not being one) are nothing new. Believers have always faced challenges to their faith. And they have kept reminders about what being a believer can mean. The cross itself is one such sign. Kyle had it tattooed on his wrist so he couldn't run away from it. And now maybe it is something he regrets.
Most of us don't carry such an outwardly visible sign as a wrist tattoo. Even a necklace with a cross on it could be interpreted as no more than a simple fashion statement.
In John's Gospel "signs" take on a whole different meaning. The signs that Jesus works are meant to encourage belief in him. They are manifestations of God's saving action. The changing of water into wine at Cana in Galilee was the first of Jesus' signs. And the Gospel writer tells us that "his disciples began to believe in him."
There was something about what Jesus was doing that made others take an interest in following him.
The Theology on Tap series that many dioceses conduct is popular with some college age and young adult populations. Of course you can bet that any bishop who could change water into wine at one of these events would attract a huge following, though probably more for the "Tap" part rather than the "Theology."
Kyle's tattoo invites comments from others, even though at this point in his life he is not so sure that he wants to get into a discussion about Christianity. Nevertheless, his tattoo is a sign.
We might ask ourselves what "signs" are we giving off that might cause someone to ask about our Christian faith. What actions does our church do in the community that might invite someone to consider walking in the door? We don't necessarily need to get a tattoo, but if no one is interested in who we are as Christians, it may be time to reflect on how well we are accomplishing our mission.
We could look at the forty-six million "nones" as people that are lost. Or we could see in them a sign for us of the opportunities that are there to invite people to begin to believe in the One who gave us the greatest sign of all: the sign of ultimate love!
at Cana in Galilee your Son was made manifest
and his disciples came to believe in him.
May others see in us a sign of your love
as we care for our brothers and sisters
and profess our faith in you.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
THEOLOGY ON TAP
"Theology on Tap" is one of the ministries of RENEW International. You can learn more about this and their other programs at: www.renewintl.org/.
LENTEN REFLECTIONS FOR YOU PARISH MEMBERS
You can invite your parish members to sign up for a free weekly Lenten Reflection to inspire them and help them prepare for Sunday. Just publish the link to Wednesday Morning Connection in your weekly bulletin (www.4LPi.com/wedmorning) and invite parishioners to sign up for an e-mail reminder to receive a reflection connecting the news and the Scriptures each week.
PREPARING FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY: RIO 2013
In light of the special missionary theme selected by Pope Benedict XVI for World Youth Day 2013—"Go Make Disciples of All Nations" (Mt 28:19)—the Pontifical Mission Societies is pleased to present a unique resource for young people, designed to help them prayerfully prepare for WYD ("Go"), to intentionally celebrate the day itself ("Make"), and to continue the experience as missionary disciples after WYD 2013 comes to a close ("Disciples").
Go, Make, Disciples is written for use by both groups attending the event in Rio with the Holy Father, as well as for those who will not travel to Rio but who are nevertheless called to respond to the Holy Father's specific call to all young people for WYD 2013. Order online at www.propfaith.net/wydrio2013.
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK
Catholic Schools Week is celebrated in the United States this year from January 27–February 2. Many parish communities hold special events in honor of Catholic Schools. For more information and for resources and ideas, visit: www.ncea.org/news/catholicschoolsweek.asp.