Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

2/2/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The words of 1 John 4:17 remind us - As He is so are we in the world.

Just as there can be no disembodied spirituality worthy of the name Christian - because redemption involves the integrated human person, body, soul and spirit - there cannot be a disembodied understanding of the mission we have as members of a Church which is still called into the world.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/2/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: mission, new evangelization, year of faith, evangelism, witness, spirituality, world, worldly, lay faithful, escriva, catholic action, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - On January 19, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI gave a somewhat foreboding address to Bishops from the United States who had traveled to Rome for their five year visit. He told them:

"It is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church's public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life."

"Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience."

We know what has happened in one year. The mandate has not been rescinded, a myriad of lawsuits have been filed, and the faithful may soon face the necessity of civil disobedience. We will not obey what is clearly an unjust law and an infringement on the fundamental right to Religious Freedom as recognized and secured in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution.

This is a trying time for the Church in the United States; the kind of historic period which two thousand years have shown us produces heroes and saints - and sometimes martyrs. Before they were called Christians in Antioch, the early followers of Jesus were referred to as the Way (Acts 19, 9, 23). That was because their faith was expressed in the way they lived their lives in the midst of the world. They were missionaries and so are we, no matter what our state in life or specific vocation.

The Pope also told the Bishops, "The Church's witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation."

"Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis--vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society."

"The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every level."

The Gospel this morning is taken from Mark 4: 1-20, the parable of the sower and the seed. At the end of the parable Jesus explains the meaning to his disciples: "Jesus said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them."

"And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold."

The parable has been the source of inspiration for some of the richest reflections on the dynamic power of God's word in the Tradition. Clearly, we are both the soil and the seed. The Living Word is sown within us and we must cultivate the ground of our hearts, the center of our very identity, so that we can be transformed in the Lord and more fully reflect His Image and likeness.

However, there is the other aspect of the parable, the missionary response, which can be more fully seen within the context of other parables from the Master. We ourselves become seed, in His Holy Hands, being spread into the world, to bear the fruit of the new world. The world which he created, needs to be re-created again in and through Jesus Christ, the first born of a new creation. (See, e.g. Colossians 1:15) We are seeds of the Kingdom.

There are other images used in Matthews Gospel: "Jesus said to his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father." (Matt. 5: 13 - 16)

The passage calls to mind the words of the Lord, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12) We carry His light into the world. We cannot withdraw from the world because we cannot let the darkness overcome it. Just as there can be no disembodied spirituality worthy of the name Christian - because redemption involves the integrated human person, body, soul and spirit - there cannot be a disembodied understanding of the mission we have as members of a Church which is still called into the world.

The words of 1 John 4:17 remind us "As He is so are we in the world".  We are in the world with a redemptive purpose. No matter how rocky the soil of the American culture is becoming, we do not have the option of pulling out of our obligation to participate.
 
In Matthews Gospel Jesus uses other images to communicate this missionary message: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches. The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened." (Matt. 13: 31 - 33)

Our mission beckons us. In the words of St. Jose Maria Escriva, "May Our Lord be able to use us so that, placed as we are at all the cross-roads of the world - and at the same time placed in God - we become salt, leaven and light. Yes, you are to be in God, to enlighten, to give flavor, to produce growth and new life. But don't forget that we are not the source of this light: we only reflect it. (St. Jose Maria Escriva, Friends of God, 250)

The power to effect redemptive change in the world comes from the life of God within us. It is amazing how little leaven it takes to raise a loaf of bread. That is because within those little particles of yeast is found the power to ferment, to change the lump of wet dough into a loaf of aromatic, tasty, nourishing bread. However, the power contained within that yeast is not activated unless it is mixed and kneaded into the dough.

Once you work the leaven in, it is still hidden to the eye but my, how it transforms that loaf! So it is with Christians within human culture! The power within us is the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead (See Romans 8:11)! All we are asked to do is to mix it up. We have to get in the loaf. We must be in the world - where Jesus is - in order to be used to accomplish His ongoing work of redemption.

Faith is a verb, it must be exercised. By living in the heart of the Church in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world we participate in bringing the world back to God. This kind of missionary mindset has inspired great missionary ages in the past and brought extraordinary changes to entire cultures. It can once again! However, it always begins one person, one grain, at a time.

The seed of the kingdom, the living Word, has been planted within us. And now, we become the seed, the salt and the leaven for the Divine Sower who continues His redemptive mission in a world waiting to be reborn in Him. He now spreads us in the field of the world to bear a harvest for the Kingdom to come. We are called to live at the crossroads of that world and become missionaries of the new world, of which the Church is a seed and sign.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.



Comments


More Living Faith

Drinking the Chalice of the Lord: Facing Suffering, Struggle and Failure Watch

Image of All of those who bear the name Christian are invited to follow the path of Jesus' struggle, to walk along with Him on the way of His rejection. We too are invited to climb the mountain of His great saving act of unmerited selfless Divine love. Golgotha beckons.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

James was the son of Zebedee and brother of John. From faithful stock, we see in this encounter that some forms of zeal may indeed be genetic. In fact, the zeal in both of these brothers caused the Lord to name them the Sons of Thunder.(Mk 3:14-17) However, human ... continue reading


Give God control: 20 verses to help during anxiety and fear Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Terrorism, disease, natural disasters, war, violence and crime; we live in a world where we see and hear about horrors every day. People are dying every day, in your city, in my city, in a country on the other side of the world. I am afraid. It's hard not to be afraid. ... continue reading


Three type of people your life may be better off without Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Have you ever wondered why you're wasting your energy dealing with the kind of person who brings you down? Or maybe you're the opposite - you're the one who loves too much and does not know how to say "No." MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Reality says that ... continue reading


Frodo Baggins and St Therese: The Little Way Through Middle Earth Watch

Image of Frodo alone, while weighed down by the burden of the Ring, is not tempted to use it for his own long term glory, until at the last moment he weakens and the Ring's power infests his heart. 
Frodo is humble, but he is not weak, and what keeps him from being weak is his obedience

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

In giving us a humble hero Tolkien reminds us that it is the foolish things of God which overturn the wisdom of the world. Things are not what they seem. The small ones turn out to be mighty while the mighty are fallen. It is the secret agents of the world who ... continue reading


Making a Lenten Retreat with Pope Francis: Learning from Elijah Watch

Image of There is a mystery here, deep and profound, yet as simple as the broom tree encounter of our teacher Elijah. God is searching for men and women who will surrender their lives in love to Him in this hour. Often, it takes the depletion of all of our own efforts and resources before we are willing to give up - and give in - to Him. When we do, the life of true faith begins. It is there we learn to hear the God of surrendered love in the whisper of the wind. It is there that we learn the Faith of Elijah, under the broom tree.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In many respects, our life on this earth is a classroom of love and a continual invitation to holiness. As we age, we are given the opportunities we need to receive the graces we need to empty ourselves of all that clutters up our life - so that we can be free to ... continue reading


Pope Francis opens the Vatican to the homeless Watch

Image of The homeless are now being welcomed into the Vatican and are sleeping there overnight in sleeping bags donated by Pope Francis.

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

Pope Francis has opened the Vatican to the homeless, providing them with sleeping accommodations. The number of homeless there has doubled in the past six months as the Pontiff makes a difference in the lives of so many people. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Your Catholic Voice Foundation (YCVF) Reports - what your generosity did for Syrian and Iraqi Christians in 2014!

Image of YCVF has helped thousands in need. You can be part of this success too. Help now!

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Your Catholic Voice Foundation 2014 Report - Last year, caring, devoted Catholics such as you made thousands of donations to care for Christians in Syria and Iraq. At this time, Your Catholic Voice Foundation would like to report how your donations made a ... continue reading


New rules for Vatican finance offices include protection for 'whistleblowers' Watch

Image of Publishing the new statutes in Italian on its Web site, the new rules governing the Vatican's finances went into effect on March 1. Pope Francis approved the statutes

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Those who find evidence of wrongdoing in the finances governing the Vatican will be protected under new rules. The guidelines governing the guidance, oversight and control of Vatican financial and administrative activities will include the power to levy ... continue reading


Former atheist shares with the world his unbelievable journey finding Jesus Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Journalist and Pastor Lee Strobel led a "narcissistic and profane" life before his conversion to Christianity in 1981. The former atheist spent two years interviewing experts and exploring theology, when he became overwhelmed by the evidence for Jesus Christ's ... continue reading


Catholic-raised beef. Yep, that's a thing! Watch

Image of A nun's life is filled with unexpected joys and happiness. For the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburnga, ranching and prayer fit perfectly.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When many Americans think of monks and nuns, they imagine brown or black-clad cloistered people who do nothing but pray all day in perfect isolation from the rest of the world. It's a common misconception and perhaps it dissuades many from a life that is actually ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-18
3 Jacob loved Joseph more than all his other sons, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21
16 He called down famine on the land, he took away ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
33 'Listen to another parable. There was a man, a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 6th, 2015 Image

St. Colette
March 6: Colette was the daughter of a carpenter named DeBoilet at Corby ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter