This weekend, after all the Masses, we’re taking up a special collection.
This will support an effort planned for Christmastime,
To invite back those Catholics who--for whatever reason--
aren’t so active in their Faith.
It’s well planned; the ads and materials are top quality.
It’s worked well in other parts of the country.
So I feel good about asking you to support it.
But now we have a dilemma--I bet it happens to you.
We want to bring back folks who’ve drifted away, or been turned off.
And the temptation is to say,
oh, let’s not press not press a particular point.
It’s very tempting!
Every week I prepare a homily.
One day, I must stand before the Lord,
and he will ask me to account for how well I taught about him.
Suppose, on that Day, I tell him:
“Lord, I always left out all those parts that caused heartburn;
that people didn’t like or found difficult.”
What will he say?
I fear he may say what he said to Peter in today’s Gospel.
Because then I will have made the same mistake,
trying to have Christ without the Cross.
As Bishop Fulton Sheen used to say,
if we try to have Christ without the Cross,
we get little more than cheap, sugary sentiments.
Not something worth fighting for,
and certainly not worth dying for.
When the Gospel was first preached, in the first few centuries,
what was it that drew people to the Catholic Faith?
It wasn’t because it was easy.
o be a Christian was to be viewed at least with scorn,
if not as an enemy of the state.
The early Christians were known for living changed lives.
They were faithful in their marriages
and refrained from the sexual excess of their culture.
They did not throw away their infants if they were “defective”--
as the pagan Romans did.
We might examine ourselves.
Today, all the studies say that we Catholics
no longer stand out from the culture.
Also, the early Christians for doing as Saint James suggested:
walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
So here’s the challenge--for me and for you.
We’re not only asking you to kick in a few bucks
to help with the Catholics Come Home project.
We do need that help--thank you.
But sharing our Faith isn’t just about good brochures and ads.
What am I and what are you prepared to do
to help bear witness to our Faith?
To help bring folks to know Jesus Christ--
and the life he offers?