“I have chosen you out of the world.”
It is amazing what Paul and Timothy did. How they shared and spread the Lord’s name far and wide. The “churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number.” This is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: an increase in faith and in numbers.
Recently, I had the pleasure of celebrating Mass at St. Joseph with the Most Reverend Lisane-Christos, the Auxiliary Bishop of Addis Ababa. He has been on a difficult mission in the United States - seeking financial support for his work in Ethiopia. His work is almost entirely evangelization. Hundreds of men, women and children are coming into the Church on a monthly basis, most from that war stricken region of Sudan, Darfur. These people have never heard the name of Jesus Christ and when they do, they fall in love with Him. After Mass, I asked him what he thought of America. He told me that he was very much impressed with our Mass attendance. It reminded him of back home. On a daily basis, we may have up to one hundred souls for Mass. He was surprised and impressed. “It is not like this in Europe”, he remarked. Whew! I was so grateful. Just a few days ago I reminded the congregation that each person must invite another to Mass. After all, our work is not that much different than the Bishop’s. We have all been called to evangelize.
What stops us? A stern warning from the Lord. Jesus reminds us of who we are and where we come from. “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember…”
Yes, remember…it will not be easy. If it is, then it might well mean that something is very wrong. What slows us down? A strong desire for an easy life. We all want it easy, all of us. Imagine a marriage or priest without vows? Imagine a Christian without His Cross? Sounds great! But just think about it. A Christian without His Cross means a Christian without Christ. A marriage without vows is similar to children without discipline! Imagine our roads without rules! I think you get the picture.
But we rebel because the Lord has added an additional burden upon us: to be another Christ. It’s not good enough just to be good. It’s not even good enough to be, yes, nice. It’s not even good enough to be tolerant. The Lord demands from us to be like him and guess what? “They will do all these things - [hate you and persecute you] - on account of my name.”
Here is the Lord’s invitation: I invite you to get out of this world; to no longer be a part of this world. That is, be different. Be unique. Do not consider yourself a citizen of a man-made temporary and shifting world, but of the real world, the world without borders and that never ends. Think of yourself as a soul from Heaven and not as someone limited by gravity. Think of yourself as a gift that came down from Heaven. You live and work in a way that no other lives or works. Your gifts are supernatural: love, forgiveness, compassion, support, mercy and sacrifice. These gifts definitely do not belong to man; they go against his nature, his instinct to survive.
The day wedecide to accept the Lord’s invitation to be out of this world - to be conscious that we do not “belong to the world” - will be the day we change the world and for good.