As Fr. Stan completes his trip to the Holy Land, I’m humbled to fill in as a guest writer this week. Have no fear, Fr. Stan will be back for next week’s bulletin.
The church year is coming to a close next weekend. Over these last two weeks of the church year, we hear about Jesus’ Second Coming in our scripture readings. We all know the story of the first coming. Jesus came to free us from ourselves, it was a rescue mission meant to release us from the bondage and slavery caused by sin. How or when the Second Coming will happen is unclear. However, scripture paints the picture as follows, “Then men will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. He will dispatch His angels and assemble His chosen. Therefore, repent now before it’s too late! Reconcile with Jesus now, for you know not the day or the hour of His return.” (Mark 13:26-27, 32)
Recently I was privileged to hear a talk by Fr. John Klockeman, Assistant Director of Spiritual Formation at the St. Paul Seminary, School of Divinity. Fr. Klockeman’s talk was titled, “Appropriating Our Baptismal Priesthood & Call to Holiness”. Although his talk was not directly on the Second Coming of Jesus, I think his message is one that we can all take to heart as we contemplate this week’s readings. Allow me to share some of my take-aways from that talk.
By our baptism we are called to play a part “in the world” and to not be “of the world”. What does this mean? Think for a minute about your life. What makes you “Of the world” as opposed to “In the world”? Here are some of my thoughts. It is hard to be a disciple of Jesus, especially in the world in which we live. We have so many human luxuries that distract us including but not limited to; nice homes to live in, cars to take us anywhere, technology to connect us everywhere, food to fill our bellies, fresh drinking water at the flick of our wrist, nice clothes to wear, vacations to go on, hobbies to fill our time, sports programs to keep our kids busy, bank accounts to secure our futures and much more. Does this make us “in the world” or “of the world”? Hmm, I would say that this makes us “of the world”. The bummer part is that the list above contains the things that we strive for in this world. They are the things that we pursue in hopes of finding happiness.
So, how can we become more “in the world”. The key is to recognize our own mortality. We are only here for a short period of time. “By His call, Jesus does not only demand that a person believe in Him; He invites them to radicalize this faith to the point of taking the risk of leaving all other goods and to place their trust completely in Him. He wants a love which consents to live for Him and with Him,” (Jean Galot).
No matter where we are on life’s journey, we can adjust the way we prioritize the way we live. A way to to think about doing that is to use the word JOY. Each letter of the word JOY can direct the way we organize our life.
J is for Jesus. Putting Jesus first in our life keeps our priorities in order. It means that we are disciples of Jesus. Being a disciple means that we are faithful to Him. Prayer, fasting, almsgiving, time in Adoration with our Lord, praying the rosary and regular active participation in sacramental living are excellent ways to put Jesus first.
O is for Others. We need to be available to help others and to learn about our faith, we need to have a way of living life that is contagious and attractive to others. We must say, “Yes,” to those opportunities to help others, to volunteer for our parish and to complete acts of mercy.
Y is for Yourself. As disciples, we are trainable to carry out the work of a disciple. In order to be that disciple, each person needs to focus on our own gifts and talents and then determine how they might be used to glorify our lives through Him, with Him and in Him.
“We are to be disciples of influence, of action, of vision, of virtue, and of deep, passionate prayer that pierces the heart. But, to enter such an adventure we must reveal to others, and lay before God the Father from whom all authority in heaven and on earth come, the inner realm and deep terrain of our hearts, so that the person and saint God intends may burst through.” (C.S. Lewis)
Each phrase of the paragraph above challenges us to become the best version of ourselves. If we can do each of these things just a bit better each day, we are destined to become the person God intends us to be and the world will be a better place because we were “in the world”. Now, the choice belongs to each of us to decide who we are going to be. I pray that each of us will choose wisely.
Marathon/Rake-a-Thon Update: Thank you to all parishioners for supporting our school marathon. As of the writing of this article, we have collected $21,539 and we have been told that more money is still coming in. Our goal is $25,000, so we are closing in on that number! As for the contest between Fr. Stan and myself, it looks like my reign as champion has come to an end. Fr. Stan raised $1,161 and I raised $950. Thank you again to everyone for supporting both of us and for supporting our parish in this endeavor. You are appreciated!