Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A Revival . . .
“For the person without faith, God has neither meaning nor value, nor place in their life. On the other hand, the more lively our faith is, the more God enters into our life until finally, He becomes our all.”
Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, OCD
I think our Church is in need of a revival. Let me explain:
For the past few weeks, we have heard from the parables of Jesus about the kingdom of heaven from Saint Matthew’s Gospel. We have to keep in mind that as Jesus went about preaching, teaching, and healing, he likely shared the same messages and parables in various places. Many people heard them at different times and locations. I myself have given the same or similar homily across Western Washington a number of times in my different assignments!
At the Sunday Masses, we have been hearing the parables as recorded in Chapter 13 of Saint Matthew’s Gospel. It is believed that these were first proclaimed at one particular time and location, when Jesus was at the sea, with crowds gathered along the beach. Picture a kind of amphitheater, with Jesus in a boat, just off from the shore a bit, with large crowds of people gathered along and up on the beach. Thousands of people heard Jesus teach at given times, all without a microphone! Imagine that on this day as Jesus told the parables of the mustard seed and the weeds and the wheat, some people undoubtedly could not hear. They may have asked their neighbors, “What did He say?” And they would then retell the parable they had just heard. In doing so, those in the crowd were the first to proclaim the good news of the Gospel after hearing it themselves! The parables are simple and yet profound. They were meant to be shared among people long after Jesus departed from a place. The whole idea was for people to keep talking about the parable and Him long after He had gone onto another village. That’s what it means to share the faith or to catechize, which literally means “to echo.” The message of Jesus was echoed almost immediately to countless people who would eventually become His disciples.
So what about us? Do we do the same? Do we echo the faith to others? When we leave Mass, do we talk about the parables we just heard in the Liturgy of the Word with our family or friends? Do we discuss the homily or the readings? Are we quick to share with someone our experience of having just received the body and blood of the Lord in Holy Communion? If we don’t, why?
So many of our conversations, not just at the parish, but in our families, among friends, at work or school are, well, trivial and meaningless. Much of what we talk to others about lacks real substance and purpose. How many times do we talk about the weather to someone on a given day? When was the last time you had a real meaningful conversation or even a debate with someone about God, the faith, or the spiritual life? Are you passionate about your faith in Christ? If there was as much passion for the Lord Jesus as there is about politics, ideologies, our hobbies, and sports, I think it would be a different world. A better world. Jesus said where your treasure is, so there will your heart be.
(Matthew 6:21). If we value everything over and above the Lord our God, our hearts will be there and not on Him. We will be quick to discuss those other things and not the things of God in our conversations with others.
This is where the revival comes in. I feel our personal faith in Christ, as well as our Church, needs to be revived so that we once again place God first in our lives; in our families, in our parishes and schools… everywhere. This time of the pandemic has instilled in me a sense of urgency. What was once normal and routine will no longer be, probably for the better. I feel this time is a wake-up call to get serious about what really counts. For us Catholics, that means our faith in Jesus and His Church. Are we “all in” with Him? Do we really love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors? Or, are we just going through the motions? Is the Eucharist truly central to our lives or not? Have I missed receiving Holy Communion these past months, or not? If I didn’t, then why?
I have asked a whole lot of questions in this brief letter. But now is the time for us to get serious about them. In fact, there’s no time to waste. In the near future, I believe that the Church will become smaller but more faithful. This isn’t really my idea. Pope Benedict long ago made this prediction in a series of essays he wrote in 1969-70.
(Faith and the Future). For the last 50 years, people have slowly drifted away from Christ and the Church for a host of reasons; some legitimate, some not. We all know these people. They are our family and friends. They talk about the weather and other trivial things a lot. I think the pace of drifting away will likely pick up a bit now and as we come out of the pandemic. Many of these folks have no passion for Jesus or their faith.
So, this is the time for us to get serious. This is the time for a revival. We need to awaken once again; to rise up and boldly profess our faith in Christ and deepen our daily, personal relationship with Him. Our daily lives must once again focus on God and placing Him first. We need to bring the Lord back into the conversations of life; make prayer a priority, act with kindness and charity toward others, and deepen our spiritual life in general. In short, we need to quit talking about the weather and start talking about Him! As Jesus says at the end of the parables, whoever has ears ought to hear! What do you think?
Fr. David Mulholland