Proud to be a Catholic
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 11, 2015
I’ve often heard it said that on St. Patrick’s Day: “The Irish are proud to be Irish and the rest of the world wishes they were as well!” Of course, this sentiment is usually shared while also sharing a pint or two. Taking some liberties, I would suggest that: “On Thursday, September 24, 2015, I was ESPECIALLY PROUD to be Roman Catholic, and the rest of the world wished they were as well!” That, of course, was the very memorable day on which Pope Francis stood before a joint meeting of the Legislature of these United States of America. Relying on the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Holy Father gave a homily for our nation’s leaders and for the entire listening world. Most of us remember almost every word of the very memorable speech.
Beginning with Moses, who delivered God’s Law to us, the Holy Father then spoke briefly about four Americans who, through their lives, furthered the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Abraham Lincoln, in his efforts to ensure freedom to all; Martin Luther King, who articulated a dream wherein humankind would look at one another as God looks upon each of us; Dorothy Day, a voice crying out in the wilderness of greed, materialism, and unbridled consumption on behalf of the poor; and finally, the Cistercian Monk, Thomas Merton, who, from a hermitage in Kentucky helped to engage people of different faith traditions in meaningful conversations. It was indeed a “Grand day to be Catholic!”
But not all Roman Catholics agree. Moreover, the brilliant and moving address by our shepherd did not inspire the desire for conversion in the hearts of many non-Catholics…even good people…people of “good will.” Furthermore, since the Holy Father’s return to the Vatican, the secular press and social media continue to dissect his many comments, taking things out of the context of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and putting their own spin on the life-giving message.
Many are highly critical of the Holy Father as he goes about the work of discipleship, challenging all humankind to commit fully and unconditionally to building The City of God…according to God’s plan laid out very clearly in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why is this the case? Why would some people, even those who have done their best to observe God’s Law “from their youth,” find the message that Francis brings challenging to the point of being offended? Why would good people be outraged by The Good News?
We might well find the answer in this Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 10:17-30). Possibly, they are “lacking in one thing.” What that one thing might be varies from person to person. But, eventually, at least for good people…people of “good will”, the Holy Spirit will somehow provide what is “lacking.” So let’s just sit back patiently and watch the Holy Spirit, through Pope Francis, go about God’s Work!