New-Evangelization Recipe, Part I: In Us We Trust

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. The Holy Spirit will remind you of all that I told you. (John 14:27,26)

Who would have thought, on the sixth Sunday of Easter last year, that this Sunday we would celebrate the day with a new Italo-Argentine Jesuit Pope?

For that matter: Exactly one year ago, who would have thought that the Supreme Court would vindicate the federal health-care mandate? Or that the Ravens would be Super Bowl champs? Who would have thought that Mariah Carey would sit as a judge on American Idol?

American Idol judgesLife can bring some surprises our way. We can wind up confused, even disconcerted. With all this unpredictability, the question arises in our minds: Who, or what, can we really trust in this world?

We live in the age of the New Evangelization. The world groans under the burden of sin. Every soul faces inevitable death. We human beings do not get born with an instruction manual for life in our little hands—and even if we did, we probably wouldn’t be able to understand the garbled English in it anyway.

In other words: Our brothers and sisters here on this earth need to hear from us the meaning of, the purpose of, the right way to live life. Our brothers and sisters need the Gospel of Christ. And we can’t count on them getting it from anyone other than us.

So let’s ask ourselves this question; let’s ask ourselves, so that we can understand this–and thereby prepare ourselves to share the Good News with others: In order to “have” the Gospel; in order to grasp the way, the truth, and the life which Jesus Christ gives, who do we have to trust? Who do we have to trust in order to be Christians?

Now, we could say, “We have to trust Jesus!” Of course, we do. But in order even to learn that Jesus exists, one must trust somebody who conveys the message.

Maybe this is why the world needs a New Evangelization in the first place: because the world now has no real trust in anyone or anything. Every airwave drips with a constant stream of information, but nobody really trusts any of it. The modern world rings with noise noise noise; nobody gives undivided attention to any of it. Today’s noise gives way to tomorrow’s. In the meantime, human souls stay closed-up, trusting no real truth, risking nothing—thoroughly diverted, but in no way committed; constantly distracted and shallow as hell.

kelly clarkson concertSo who do we trust? Who does the Church of Jesus Christ trust, so that we ourselves can hold firm to the Gospel, find the meaning of life, and hope for everlasting goodness?

See the importance of the question? Let’s start with the first thing.

(We won’t be able to finish today; we’ll have to continue with this question until at least Trinity Sunday.)

Let’s start here: Frequently I hear good Catholic people refer to the Church as ‘they.’ For example, “They’re gonna have to deal with such-and-such problem—like ‘losing the young people,’ or ‘not having enough Catholic schools,’ or ‘losing the Spanish-speaking people to the megachurches,’ or ‘having too much money tied-up in expensive altar-furnishings, while the poor starve.’” “They’re gonna have to deal with that problem.”

They? Who’s the ‘they?’ If the Church has a problem, any problem, then we have a problem. This is the first dimension of the trust of the Church of Christ.

The Church is us. Pope, bishop, priest, parish; one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church—all over the world, and right here; a family; us. Our Holy Father; our American Catholic bishops; our parish church; our little ones getting ready to receive Holy Communion for the first time, etc. Ours. Us.

The Church of Christ is the people who trust each other in this way: I have nothing—my life is nothing but Netflix and microwave burritos and pathetic, hopeless loneliness unto death—without this us, my Catholic family: my lawfully wedded wife or husband—if I have one, my children—if I have any, my parents, Pope Francis, Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo, your unworthy servant the pastor, each other—all of us. I have no me without this us. That’s the foundation on which Christian trust is built.

st-peters-sunriseWanna know my favorite Kelly Clarkson song? “Catch my Breath?” No. “Behind These Hazel Eyes?” No. It’s “My Life Would Suck Without You.” My life would suck without you. That’s our new church theme song for today.

Maybe I know your name; maybe I don’t. Maybe I like the way you comb your hair; maybe I don’t. But my life would suck without you. Because I have no me without this us, the Church of Christ. Pope Francis, 1.2 billion Catholics, our humble parish. Us.

That’s the kind of communal trust that makes up Part One of the recipe for New-Evangelization Success.

But we have to pause a moment.

How can I trust the Church as an institution? According to CNN, “the Catholic Church” has many institutional problems. According to CBS, PBS, BBC, Huffington Post, and usatoday.com, it’s a “crisis!” How can I, how can any of us, trust The Church after the sex-abuse crisis?

Okay. Good question. Honest question.

Trust me! I will do my best to answer it. But that’s going to have to wait till next week. Trust me! I will try to answer it next week.

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