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The Three M's

By Fr. Robert J. Carr
Catholic Online


The minute I looked at Todayís readings I realized I could sum them up in what I will call the Three Mís: Mission, Method and Membership.

What is the reason for our existence as Catholics. I am sure that is a question that many non-Catholics ask themselves everyday, especially if they do not like us. However, what is important is that you and I know what our mission is. It is cited in Todayís gospel (JN 20:19-31) and you find it in the last paragraph.

But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Our mission as Catholics, given to us at baptism, is to testify to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, He is the Son of God and that those who come to believe in him may have life in his name. We really have no other mission. There are many ways that we accomplish this mission, but, if we do things that are not based in that simple sentence we miss the point.

Many look upon the Church as a social service agency. It is not. We do social service, but if we lose sight of our mission then our social service is counter productive to whom we are called to be.

Others look at us as an educational institution. We are not, we do education, but if we lose sight of our mission, then our education is counter-productive to whom we are called to be at baptism.

The list goes on. You and I commit ourselves at our baptism, our confirmation and our marriage or Holy Orders to the mission of the Church. We commit ourselves to making Christ known as the Son of God.

Many do not understand that and take for granted that mission or dismiss it altogether. They will always do so and they will never get who we are and what we do until they understand us in light of our call to proclaim that Jesus is the Christ. This is the reason why my newspaper of choice is the Wall Street Journal. It is a business periodical that has a focus on how the world impacts daily business. Other newspapers are focused on the way the world would be if their world view was in place. Their world view does not comprehend our mission. Yet, how can it, many of those who work for these venues reject our message. If they reject our message they cannot understand our mission nor whom we are.

They become like Thomas earlier in the gospel. Thomas, if you look carefully did not doubt, he refused to believe. He speaks out of anger that Jesus died on the cross and so his doubt is a refusal to believe. Those who likewise mock us because of their doubt do so out of a refusal to believe, not an inability to believe.

Recently, in a further example of a refusal to believe, some scientist said that Jesus did not walk on water, he walked on ice. I told that to the Brazilians and they were laughing hysterically when they heard that one. Why would someone make such a ridiculous statement? It is not doubt, it is refusal to believe.

Now we need to look at the second M. Method. John (1 JN 5:1-6) tells us in the second reading that the sign of our belief is that we live the Commandments. Remember, there are actually only two commandments, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. The ten are based on the two. You can live the ten, however, and never live the two. You cannot fully live the two and not also live the ten.

Our method is, therefore, seeking to do what pleases God every day. We please God when we grow in love for him and in our neighbor. We demonstrate that love for God and neighbor in the way we live our life. This becomes a whole circle, the more we love God, the more radically we live our life. The more radically we live our life, the more we learn to love God. This is why prayer is so central to our faith. We have to be people of prayer so that we can grow in relationship with God and learn what it is he wants of us.

Our prayer life teaches us how to love. Our bible study teaches us how to love and our action teaches us how to love. Prayer, study and action work together and teach us how to be people of love. If we are not actively engaged in that then we do not fully understand how to be the Catholics. We cannot do the method and, therefore, we cannot fulfill the mission. Then we are just going through the motions or something. I am not sure fully what we are doing when we call ourselves Catholic mindless of the mission or the method.

This is why the way we live our life is so important. It is also important to know when we fall. We do that regularly. Remember that St. James warned us that the Just man falls seven times daily. So all of us fail in our method and our mission. The key is we try everyday to do the method better and the mission ...

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