Dear Friends in Christ:
Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit? The answer is “yes!” So what are you doing with the gift of the Holy Spirit in your life? For too many of us, the answer is “not as much as we should.” The Holy Spirit is our advocate and helper. The Spirit is here to aid us in growing closer to God AND in bringing others to God and God to others. Who did you bring to God this week? Who did you try to bring? Who did you want to bring? I ask these questions not to embarrass or to make you feel guilty but hopefully make all of us think and renew our efforts.
St. Pope Paul VI taught that the Church exists to evangelize. This is so important, but it is too often misunderstood or ignored. It is the mission of every baptized person to bring people to God and God to people. It is for this reason that Jesus gave us the Great Commission “Go, make disciples!” It is also why he promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us in this mission. One of the beautiful aspects of the Second Vatican Council was its emphasis on the role of the laity in fulfilling this mission of the Church. All of us are called to go out to the world and share the Good News. Yet, too many of us remain hesitant and reluctant. In his homily at the priesthood ordinations last week, Cardinal DiNardo encouraged the new priests to always preach the Kerygma – that is the essential proclamation of Christ. That was good advice for these new priests, but it is excellent advice for all of us. If we allow the Holy Spirit to help us, all of us can proclaim the saving message of Jesus’ love and our salvation through the sacrifice of Christ crucified and risen from the dead. With the Holy Spirit we can overcome every hindrance.
Now, of course, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus to the whole world does not mean we all have to stand up on soap boxes and start yelling. But it does not mean that we hide our faith either. We live it openly, joyfully, and enthusiastically. We proclaim the truth of Jesus and hold firm to it in our actions as well as our words. We live it with our whole lives. As disciples of Jesus we believe and proclaim that God is the God of life. When we use contraception, what does that say? Is that proclaiming the sacredness of life? Does that show our trust in God? We believe that true marriage as given by God is an exclusive, permanent relationship between one man and one woman for the good of the couple and the raising of children. What do we say when we fail to uphold that in our lives and our marriages or say that it is merely one opinion of what marriage is? Is that proclaiming the teaching of Christ? Is that upholding the sacredness of Christian marriage? We believe that God is merciful and forgiving. When we hold resentments and fail to forgive, is that merciful? Or when we simply say that everything is ok and what God has declared as evil and sinful is acceptable, how can that be merciful or forgiving? When God forgives us that does not mean that sin and evil are good. When Christ conquered sin by his death and resurrection he did not make sin acceptable or give us license to sin. He gave us a means to overcome sin through his grace, mercy and forgiveness. Indulging our own sinfulness and that of others is neither merciful nor loving. To truly love is to hate the sin and love the sinner. To love someone is to want them not to sin, it is not the acceptance or approval of sin.
It is a special challenge in today’s culture to proclaim the truth of Jesus. It is not always easy in all situations to bring the saving message of Christ to others. God knows that and yet God still desires that we bring others to him and his message to the world. God has given us all that we need to fulfill this mission in the Holy Spirit. It is up to each of us to avail ourselves of the Spirit’s power.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. Amen.
In pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately