Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

2/2/2013 (1 year 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.

Article Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/2/2013 (1 year 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 The mandate has not been rescinded, a myriad of lawsuits have been filed, and the faithful may soon face the necessity of civil disobedience.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-ŗ-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 calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Living Faith

Who's ready for the most historic canonization in modern history?

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Are you ready for the canonization of Pope John Paul II? Vatican officials are busy preparing for the historic canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. As they prepare, it's time for use to get ready as well. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - on April 27, a ... continue reading


Pope Francis encourages people to kiss crucifix and recite simple prayer Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is encouraging people this holy week to pick up a crucifix, kiss it and recite the simple prayer: "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord." He wishes to remind others that Christ's passion "isn't the happy ending of a beautiful fairytale, it isn't the ... continue reading


Pope Francis distributes Bibles, asks Catholics to perform acts of charity

Image of Bibles were handed out to all visitors regardless of their religious affiliation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has given out tens of thousands of Bibles to people that he hopes they will keep and use daily. The gifts were distributed in St. Peter's Square following Mass. The gifts came with one string attached however, Pope Francis asked all people to perform an ... continue reading


Pope Francis' Wild Ride - Pope takes happy kids for a spin through St. Peter's Square Watch

Image of Pope Francis kisses Livio Bastianelli and Davide Maria goodbye after their lucky ride.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis gave to kids the ride of a lifetime by inviting them for a spin in the Popemobile around St. Peter's Square. The gesture continues to cement Pope Francis as a man of the people who is most comfortable with the throngs of faithful who seek his wisdom and ... continue reading


Seminary is not for those who do not wish to 'get on with life,' Pope admonishes Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In addressing the Pontifical Leonine College of Anagni, the Pope did not mince words. Pope Francis was forthright in saying that the seminary is not a refuge for those who have "psychological problems" or lack the courage "to get on in life." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Pope Francis apologizes for abuse scandal, says Church deserves to pay Watch

Image of Pope Francis embraces a child in St. Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has made his strongest statement yet about the scandal of child abuse in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis made clear that victims of abuse deserved an apology as well as compensation for what they have suffered.  He reaffirmed that the Church will be ... continue reading


Pope Francis makes special plea, but is asking us - Are you listening? Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis continues to call for aid to the poor as the holiday season ends. The Holy Father has set a goal to eradicate global hunger by distributing food more equitably around the world and he has called on all faithful Catholics to help. It's a call that can't be ... continue reading


'The Devil is here, even in the 21st century,' Pope Francis warns Watch

Image of Life is a constant battle against evil due to the presence of the devil, Pope Francis said, admitting that even he

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The devil is very much alive in the 21st Century, Pope Francis warns, and he often takes the form of gossip. The pope confessed that he himself was tempted to gossip, and the faithful need to stay on their toes. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Speaking in the ... continue reading


The Protest Against Evil and the Rise of Atheism: Is Evil Really the Problem?

Image of Adam and Eve deny their creatureliness in the Edenic Paradise, desiring to be as gods without God, and thus commit original sin.

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

It sounds very nice, a world devoid of suffering and every type of evil. However, there are some problems with such an idea, at least for now, given the present situation. What would it mean for us if there were no potential for evil? Atheists often reject God in ... continue reading


How I Read Myself Into the Church Watch

Image of

By Deal W. Hudson

It's said that people don't read much anymore, that we live in a multimedia age, and that the act of reading is on the wane. These prognostications have already been proven false. Nothing can replace reading a book as the most intimate medium of enjoyment and ... 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, Isaiah 61:1-3, 6, 8-9
1 The spirit of Lord Yahweh is on me for Yahweh has ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:21-22, 25, 27
21 My hand will always be with him, my arm will make ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-21
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Reading 2, Revelation 1:5-8
5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 17th, 2014 Image

St. Anicetus
April 17: Anicetus was a Syrian from Emesa. He became pope about 155 and ... 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