Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why be a Catholic? (Sunday homily)

If someone asked you, why are you a Catholic, what might be your answer? 

You might say, because you think it’s true. 
Maybe you would point out how Scripture predicted Jesus’ suffering and death--
such as the first reading. 

But is this why we choose to follow Jesus Christ? Because someone proved it to us? 
For some of us, that’s part of it. 

When I was 19 and in college, I left the Catholic Church and joined another church--
because I thought that was where I would be close to the Lord. 
So, in my situation, I needed to be convinced of the truth of the Catholic Faith. 
It took me ten years more. 
But even then, what brought be back-- what “closed the deal”--was the Lord’s call. 

I was living in northern Virginia and one day, as I drove by a Catholic church, 
 I heard the Lord, in my heart, ask me: “What holds you back?” 

 Now, till that moment, I would have cited many reasons. 
But instantly, every argument dissolved. I said, “nothing, Lord.” 
A day or two later, I went to that same parish for confession. 

So just a note: if someone you know says, I don’t know how to go back, that’s how you do it. 

But back to the question: what makes us choose to follow the Lord? 
Have we actually made a choice? Or are we just going along? 

One of the reasons our Lord explained to the Apostles what lay ahead 
was because they needed to choose. 
Were they expecting power and glory? 

After he makes it clear they, too, will face his same Cross, 
all the Apostles--save one--stay with him. Why? 
What did they experience that would make it worth it? 

I’m going to tell you. But realize that it’s not enough to grasp it in the mind. 
We must know it in the heart. 

The answer is Life. New Life. True Life. Life with God. Life in Christ. 
To have our sins forgiven and forgotten. 
And to be united with God for eternity, his Life, our life. 
What we will have in eternity begins here on earth. 
The fullness of it is beyond us. 
But the saints, in their radiance, in their calm, show us a sign, a foretaste, of glory divine. 

“How do I get there?” Begin here. 
“How do I gain that promise?” Give yourself to Christ. 
“But I’m not ready!” That’s what our life as Catholics is about. Getting ready. 

If you were training for the Olympics, 
you’d have a series of things you’d need to do, every week, if not every day; 
and you’d give things up that would get in the way. 

To be a Christian--to live the Catholic life-- is fitness training for heaven. 
And when the Lord helps us glimpse what we have to look forward to, 
We know why we choose this Faith.

No comments: