1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Ps 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-130; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52
In the first reading young King Solomon, Kind David’s son, begged God for wisdom and understanding to care for the people of Israel. We could ask God also for wisdom and understanding to help the church grow in our parishes and diocese. We are part of the church Jesus, the Messiah, founded almost 2,000 years ago.
The parables and stories that Jesus told the people were directed at some among the Jewish people who would not accept or listen to him. I think this is partly because Jesus did not go to the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem for permission to preach and teach. As we listen to these various stories of Jesus today, how are we responding?
I was at the 50th Anniversary of the modern Pentecostal movement in the Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, PA. There were a little over 6,000 people. About 40% were French-speaking, some 35% were English and the rest Spanish. Leaders were asking how we evangelize in our cultures today.
Three levels in the Church
The Church is in three levels. First, how have we been brought into the Church? Most older Catholics were raised in a Catholic family and educated in Catholic schools. The second level involved growth in the faith as adults. And the third involved telling others about the beauty and power of our Catholic faith.
What is new now regards what is happening to our youth and young adults. We have a completely different culture where satan has taken over with drugs, alcohol and various levels of “screwed up sex.”
Now leadership is asking us how we can effectively reach this new culture. What does God want us to do and how do we do that in our electronic world? The older liturgies just won’t work with this new youth culture. That is the analysis.
Most of us won’t understand this. Yet the question is, how are we growing in our faith? I received a little card many years ago through the Cursillo Movement. In their small group sessions, after a weekend when they were set on fire for their faith, they use a three-part guideline for personal growth.
First, they reflect on how they were growing in their daily personal prayer life. There are many options there.
The second question asks, “What am I reading and studying that helps me grow in my faith wisdom and understanding?” I suggest spiritual books and magazines, and the “United States Catholic Catechism for Adults,” by our U.S. Bishops. The latter is written more like parents explaining things to their children.
The third level is asking God to show us how he is empowering us to tell others about our faith. Meeting regularly, at least every other week, to pray and ask the support and encouragement of others will help us really be the light of Christ in the world and glow with his love and joy.
Be a firelight
May the Holy Spirit pierce your mind with more wisdom and knowledge. May he also “wound” your heart with more of his love for you and the world. My prayer for you is that God’s fire in you will be come contagions and draw others into being more Jesus fires in your parish, diocese, and world.
We need more fires to counteract the darkness of these cultures. Jesus wants to fill up his churches with the glory he came to bring us. Our commission is not to close his churches. Amen! Alleluia!
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2017 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)