(Click here for readings)
“The Kingdom of Heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son…Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Last night our youth group invited me to participate in a discussion entitled “Why be Catholic?” The kids were great. They shared with me their religious experiences, good and bad, in school and in Church. What’s clear to me, and what I got out of it, is that it’s not easy being a Catholic today. But I’m just as sure that it has never been easy to be a Catholic anywhere or at any time. Why? Because we’re not called to be human! We are called to be something radically different.
Near the end of the evening, the moderator asked me what I thought. After listening to the kids, I wanted to help them put some structure, some conclusions, to their opinions and conversations. After much discussion, I had not yet heard anyone explain to me why they liked being Catholic. I told them that the question “Why Catholic?” was a good one, but it was like jumping to the final chapter of a book to find out how a story ends. I wanted to start from the beginning. The first question, in my opinion, should have been, “What does it mean to be a human being?”
To be human. To be a human being means to be endowed with certain faculties that enable us to think, to choose and to feel. I can think rationally. I can think how I want. I can choose whatever I want. And for the most part I can feel how I want to feel. This is what it means to be a homo sapiens. But I want to climb up the evolutionary ladder. I want to be more I can be more than just wise. I can be holy. I can be a homo Sanctus!
To be a Christian. To be a Christian means to accept an authority greater than myself. I can accept it because I can believe it. I can see that the Universe is wiser than me. I can accept that the design is not greater than the Designer! To be a Christian means to be better than a human being. It means to believe in Jesus, to choose Him, and to love like Him. In other words, it means to think irrationally - to think it is better to give than to receive, or to love your enemy, or to do good to those who cause you harm. I love it! I enjoy it. That's what makes a Christian so awesome. He is a big surprise to the world! And we desperately need good and beautiful surprises! Instead of doing “my will”, I choose to do “His Will”. Instead of loving myself more than anything else, I choose to love others more than myself. To be like Jesus Christ is what it means to be Christian.
To be a Catholic. Why Catholic? If you want to live your faith in a more radical way, then the only choice is to be a Catholic. The Church invites many, but few are chosen. Few are willing to accept and eat his body and drink his blood! Why? Because it is radical! Few are willing to sell all that they have and follow the Lord! Why? Because it means lifting both feet and stepping out of this world…for good! You can’t get more radical than that! You can't get more “get out of here” than that! To be a pastor in the Catholic Church means to live like a eunuch for the kingdom of God. Is that not radical enough? This is the factory where Saints are made. This is also were the greatest scoundrels lay hidden! This is the place that can either make you or break you.
To be a Catholic means to be a radical Christian. WE are the young men and women that will change the world. WE neither accept the world nor reject it. We simply live here, temporarily.
“Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend m soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.” (St. Charles de Foucald)