It is so easy to get lost in the monotony of life. We get up, go to work, come home, and then repeat the pattern day after day. In all the running around, we find that we have lost ourselves. The things we thought mattered — security, status, success — do not seem so valuable to us anymore when we consider what we gave up to achieve them. Have we become so focused on accumulating possessions on earth that we have forgotten to take of our immortal souls?
We are a nation filled with sins that cry to heaven. And yet God still extends His love and mercy to us every single day. At every Mass, every confession, we come face to face with a God who sent His only Son to be that innocent one among a people of sin in order to save us all. God is more merciful and loving than we could even imagine. When we seek Him, He will be found. When we call on Him, He is always there.
All too often we fall into the trap of thinking that our mission as Christians is convincing people that they need to adopt our agenda. We welcome them to a point but then when they do not completely fit with the specs of our program, the wall goes up. Rather, the mission of the Gospel, which is a mission of hospitality, is about welcoming others where they are and with their particular needs and desires; it is more about listening than it is about doing
All of creation is on fire with God’s presence. St. Francis of Assisi knew this very well. It was his firm conviction in and knowledge of God’s love within that gave him an inexhaustible ability to love his neighbor and respond without hesitation. Loving our neighbor is not meant to be easy. How do you respond?
The mission of the disciples was to proclaim the faith they held within their hearts and to invite others — all others — to join them in building up God’s kingdom. As faithful disciples, we, too, must share our faith through our words and actions.
To meet the challenges of the present, we cannot be stuck in the past. If we are to go out and proclaim the kingdom, we cannot be just maintaining buildings. Like Jesus, we need to be on the move — not just catering to those who come to us but going out to those on the fringes of our society. And, like Jesus, we have to accept that many won’t be willing to make the changes needed to take that long journey. While we want to be sensitive, we cannot let them hold us back.
In our busy lives, we are so distracted when we come to Mass that our spirit, which lies deep within our soul, doesn’t recognize Jesus, not for lack of desire or ability, but for lack of preparation and cultivation. We aren’t satisfied because we forgot that our soul was hungry for the living God. We don’t see the abundance of God’s grace and activity in our lives because we don’t know how to see with spiritual eyes the work of God all around us.
We live in a world bombarded with half-truths informed by our senses. Man’s unquenchable thirst for something beyond himself is written all over every human striving. That is because our thirst is as incomprehensible as the God who made us. To know ourselves, we must seek to know the Triune God.
Breath, life, fire, wind … these are primordial images. God uses them to remind us of something transcendent, not tame. The Holy Spirit at work in our lives goes beyond our compartments and neatly organized Christianity. This Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit wants to stir us up. He wants to hover over our chaos, upend our expectations, and show us a new, transforming joy.
It is common thinking to believe that Christ’s Ascension into heaven somehow removes him from earth and that the Holy Spirit becomes some kind of substitution for his presence here. How then, are we to think of this event we celebrate? If Christ is now fully glorified and ascended into heaven, how can he still be here?
Despite criticism from many fronts, Pope Francis has made this vision of a Church moving “beyond the boundaries” the guiding principle of his ministry and this has certainly been a dominant theme in his papacy. Nothing less is expected of us. In the end, what’s at stake in all of this is the mission of the Church.
How does Jesus make all things new? Jesus tells us that all he has taught can be summed up in one commandment, “Love one another.” The love that Jesus commands is no warm feeling of affection expressing itself in hugs and kisses. Rather, he commands them to love one another as he has loved them — by dying on the cross. Jesus is the only hope of renewal for us individually, for the Church, and for the world.