Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
In today’s first reading, Philip went down “to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them…and the crowds paid attention” (Acts 8:1-8). Wow! Did you read that? The crowds actually paid attention to what Philip had to say.
As a priest and a preacher I know what that means. It means a lot. It’s nice to know that people are paying attention to what you say. But I have to be fair. When I look out at the congregation and see some people dozing off, I can’t just blame them. I have to blame myself as well. I have to blame the messenger, never the message. That’s important. That’s being honest.
The problem with Christianity isn’t with our message or our founder. The problem is with us, the messengers. We have a tendency to either dilute our message or constrict it.
I don’t take requests. Yesterday, I read a message from someone who requested that I not mention the Boston terrorist attack during our school Mass. Today, a parishioner asked me why I didn’t mention the Boston terrorist attack during the early morning Mass (Note: there were small kids present at that Mass as well). I was shocked. I told this person that I had mention it. Now they looked shocked. I guess the parishioner didn’t hear me. J
You see folks; you can’t always please everyone all the time! That’s why I don’t take requests, except from the Holy Spirit.
Of course, we all need to be sensitive to our audience when we speak. However, we need to speak, and speak out nice and loud. The world needs to hear what we have to say. It needs us. It needs Christ. Believe me when I tell you that people, a lot of people, are very much interested in what the Church and the Bible have to say. No wonder why over 10 million additional people watched the mini-series “The Bible” each day it was broadcasted. People want us to highlight the contrast between light and darkness.
The world still needs our message and our founder! Why? Because our world thirsts and hungers for holiness, for Christ. Our kids thirst and hunger for righteousness. Why? Because elementary school kids are no longer immune to crime or terrorism. They are more and more the victims of it! And it is increasingly becoming a normal part of their world, just like ice cream and medication.
Where can we hide? Where can we hide our children? Nowhere! Nowhere is safe. Not even our private Catholic schools, gated communities or beautiful families are safe anymore. Terrorism has gone main stream. The days of shock are becoming common and boring. No one is expecting an end to terrorism but when it will strike next.
Our kids, our families, our society are increasingly becoming the victims of reality; the reality of sin; the reality of a fallen world. Finally, the world has fallen upon us!
Now don’t get me wrong. The real world is not our fallen world, where truth hurts and innocent lives are lost. No, the real world is Christ’s world, where love reigns and forgiveness is crowned. What we live in is a reality lost, a “Paradise Lost”, where half of the world’s kids witness explosions, violence and abuse on a daily basis. We thought that our gated communities were strong enough to block reality from rolling over us. We were wrong. It is rolling over us, our false paradise and false paradigms.
The war on terrorism will not end with the last terrorist (foreign or domestic) dead. It will end with our prayers and the religious conversion of the last terrorist.
The fallen world has finally come to America and it hurts a lot. How we respond to it will determine whether or not heaven remains above us or embraces us.