My dear sisters and brothers,
Who are we as Catholic Christians? It’s a basic question. Related to that are other questions as well: Who is welcome? And who is excluded?
One way of looking at these questions is to note how some people are fond of having a bracelet emblazoned with the letters WWJD, signifying “What Would Jesus Do?”
But the more accurate slogan is “What Is Jesus Doing?” What did he do as an example for us to live our understanding of what it means to be a Catholic Christian?
To be a Catholic isn’t just to belong to an organization or institution. To be a Catholic is to embrace our identity with Jesus, to grow in our knowledge of what Jesus teaches and to open ourselves to the presence of the Holy Spirit who has come to us in a special way in Confirmation. We are empowered by those gifts to live our identity as Catholics and to give witness to Jesus, who invites all without exception to come to Him, to know Him and to take up His yoke because His burden is light.
As we look at some of the problems and even scandals that have befallen the institutional Church, we must recognize that the Church is not just the Pope, the bishops and the clergy. The Church is all of us. We each have particular vocations within the body of Christ and each of us brings our gifts and weaknesses, our virtues and our sinfulness to these vocations. But we must recognize that we are the Body of Christ. We are the Church.
At our baptism, among the wonderful things that happen to us, we become Church. I use that term ‘become Church’ and not ‘member of the Church’ because the Church teaches that we are the Church. We are the people of God, as St. Peter calls us, a kingly people, a priestly people, a people God has chosen for his own. In becoming Church at our baptism, we are grafted onto Jesus.
We take on an identity with Jesus as priest, prophet, ruler and Shepherd. We become sisters and brothers of Jesus, daughters and sons of God the Father, sharing in the unique relationship that Jesus has with His Father, a sonship that is His by nature and ours by adoption through baptism.
St. Paul reminds us that we are co-heirs with Jesus, that through our baptism we have died with Jesus and will be raised up with Him.
To be a Catholic Christian fundamentally means to live out the transforming reality of our baptism, to continuously grow into our identity with Jesus by deepening our understanding of who He is, by strengthening our love for Him and by growing into living and loving as Jesus lives and loves.
The Church is a living organism. Its strengths, growth, its vitality, depends upon all of us. At times we may be and are frustrated by some directions and decisions that our leaders may take. But the Church will be strong and vibrant because of how we, the body, live our identity and commitment to Jesus Christ.
To renew the Church, we must embrace wholeheartedly and generously Jesus and His message, regularly discovering anew what He is doing in our lives.
Fraternally in Christ,
Bishop Joseph Galante
|< Prev||Next >|