FRIDAY HOMILY: Remaining Faithful in a Culture of Death
controversy, trials or inconveniences that they would be willing to give up their convictions to do so.
We can see the outworking of personal peace most graphically in the realm of life, where children, the infirm and the elderly can be seen as an interruption to that peace.
Affluence, he would offer, would be the goal of life and the motive for achievement. Our existence, then, is more about accumulating stuff than living by principles. In my limited lifetime I have seen this mindset take over.
People are also more obsessed with being upwardly mobile. One no longer lives in a house for life. They move upward to newer and better homes, buy better cars and continuously accumulate an excess of material goods. No wonder storage units are now big business.
It is in this world of personal peace and affluence that we are called to take the message of the Gospel. While this message is good news regarding our redemption from sin, a called to holiness and the hope of eternal life, for many this message is an affront to everything they embrace.
We are challenging the current of modern social thinking. As the Second Vatican Council stated in "Gaudium et spes," the "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World," The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other.
The Council, even back in the early sixties, saw the changes that society was experiencing. They wrote, A change in attitudes and in human structures frequently calls accepted values into question, especially among young people, who have grown impatient on more than one occasion, and indeed become rebels in their distress.
This means we truly have our work cut out for us and must be prepared for challenges, misunderstanding and even hostility from some to the message of hope we are bringing to the world. Like John the Baptist, we are constrained to tell the truth when talking to the world.
I heard of a missionary to China who described the Gospel this way, "God loves you just the way you are. And God loves you too much to let you stay that way."
2. He fulfilled his calling
John knew what he was called to do. He was the voice announcing the coming of the Messiah and a new Kingdom that was literally at hand. At the time of Jesus' baptism, he also knew that, from that moment on, he must decrease and the Lord must increase.
While in prison and certainly expecting death at some point John's calling was ultimately fulfilled.
In our Catholic world we hear the term "vocation" used a lot. The word, which means "calling," particularly is used with regard to ordained ministry and/or religious life. With this in mind, however, a broader definition is equally important, where each of us can discern our call to various aspects of life both inside and outside the Church.
While each of us is called to love, serve and establish an on-going personal relationship with God, this initial call can take several different directions. There are some called, as we said earlier, to live out this relationship as a priest, as a brother or a sister.
There are others who are also called to express their commitment as a single, married and as a parent. Their vocation can also include the work that they do or the career path they have chosen.
The key is to see life as a "yes" to vocation, whatever that may be. We are not to live having our faith as a simple compartment or category. As St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (Rom. 12:1)
To many in our current world, which is so oriented to materialism and power, the idea of looking for a calling seems somewhat naïve and old-fashioned. Society often lauds the one who has found "success" at the expense of others, including his family or his own well-being. Our understanding of vocation, however, is an acknowledgement that we are, as the psalmist declared, "fearfully and wonderfully made.
When we say yes to vocation, we are saying yes to the One who created us to live in a unique relationship with him. As Pope Benedict said during his visit to the United States, "The discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples."
I still vividly remember a scene from a movie I saw many years ago, "Chariots of Fire." This was the story of the 1924 Olympian, Eric Liddell, who put his faith in God ahead of his commitment to athletics. Liddell was from Scotland and was an exceptional runner, ...
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: John the Baptist, Vocation, Fortitude, faithfulness, Truth, legacy
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