Monday, the Board of Directors for the Wyoming Catholic College met. As many of you know, the College recently received Pre-Accreditation Status. Click here to read more. Sunday evening, a few of the board members gathered for a home-cooked Italian meal at one of the board member’s home. It was quite delicious! But, that is not the topic of this blog.
At the end of the evening, a rather engaging conversation ensued around teaching the “fullness of Truth” as a proper means of assisting and preparing our people to live life at a deep and meaningful level, i.e. giving them the capacity to not “take the easy way out” when life gets tough, but to do the right thing when it requires tenacity, perseverance, integrity, faith and “true love”.
Today’s Gospel called this conversation to mind. When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem…(Luke 9:51) Here, the phrase, “taken up” refers to the cross. In other words, Jesus knew what laid ahead, and he realistically, with all faith and hope in the Father, prepared to fulfill His mission of redeeming the world, which meant laying down His life for His friends. (John 15: 13)
When we are serious about our faith, and all it entails, we, too, must be prepared for the many “realistic truths” Jesus not only taught, but demonstrated in His Passion, Death and Resurrection. We must be realistic about the fact that life is not always easy, and learn how to call upon, and engage our faith as a means of sustaining and guiding us through such difficulties. Here are just a few of the “reality checks” Jesus gives: “The greatest among you is the one who serves the rest.” “If you will be my disciple, you must take up your cross and follow me.” “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it cannot bear fruit.” “Whoever loses his life for my sake, will gain eternal life.” And finally, “Blessed are you when they persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely, because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for yours is the Kingdom of God.” (Mt 5:11-12)
These are ultimately teachings about love; true love. To learn to live in this truthful fashion, we need Christ. We need to have a personal, meaningful encounter and relationship with Christ. We need, in short, continual conversion. For us as Catholics, this means the Church is critical. Yes, this encounter and relationship with Christ can and does take place in many ways, but it is Christ’s unique will that we enter into this encounter and relationship with, and in, and through the Church.
My dear people, your local parish, your local pastor and community of the People of God, are there (here) to embrace you, and assist you in this journey of faith, particularly when the going gets tough. It is no doubt challenging when the shadow of the cross falls across our path. It is then that we need the companionship of Jesus, who “set His own face” to embrace the cross. It is through the local priest and parish, the Word of God and the Sacraments, that Christ is uniquely present, willing and able to assist each of us in carrying the cross to help us faithfully embrace, and grow, through the challenge of the Gospel.
The cross is a reality, and crucial part of the “fullness of truth”. As much of a reality is the cross, so is the Life and hope that go with it!
Hang in there, Church, and keep the Faith! Know you are always in my prayers.