Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In or Out?

“For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? God will judge those outside…” 1 Corinthians 5: 12-13a

So what really does it mean to be Catholic? Does it mean you were baptized a Catholic as an infant? Does it mean you are registered at a Catholic parish? Does it mean you go to Mass? Does it mean you believe all that the Church teaches?  Or is it more than these things? If all you have to do is get baptized to be Catholic, then Hitler was a Catholic. If all you have to do is be registered at a parish, then what about all the people who are registered, but that never go to church? If all you have to do is go to Mass, then what about the way you live the other six days of the week? And if all you have to do is believe in all the Church teaches, then what if you never acted on those beliefs?

It’s a pretty complicated question and many people get pretty bent out of shape when others start giving their opinions about it. And certainly the Church tells us of our obligations as Catholics. I think it is a really a matter of where we are on the inside—in our hearts and souls, in the core of who we are and who we are called (and hopefully trying) to be. It’s a matter of interiorly desiring to follow Christ with our whole hearts, minds, souls and bodies and realizing with humility and joy, that He has revealed Himself to us through the Church and that with the promised Holy Spirit guiding the Church, we can trust what the Church teaches as True in all matters of faith and morals. And then with the acknowledgement that we cannot believe these Truths, let alone live them, without the help of God, we humbly come to receive His grace in the sacraments in order to be His disciples.

There are over 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, but how many of them really “get it” and “live it”. How many live more in line with what the culture teaches than what the Church teaches? How many are living for themselves rather than others? And what about all of the other Christians in the world that are not “members” of the Catholic Church, but nonetheless seek to follow Christ with humility and sincerity? St. Augustine once said, “There are many outside who seem to be inside, and there are many inside who seem to be outside.” And he said that somewhere around the year 400 AD! I believe it can be said even more so about our day and age.

It really comes down to this: what do you want and who do you trust? Do you want to say you are Catholic, but really believe and live however you want regardless of what the Church teaches? Or do you want to really BE Catholic and humbly accept the teachings of the Church as coming from Christ, thereby obeying and following Jesus? Do you think you know more than the Church Christ established 2,000 years ago? Or will you trust that the Holy Spirit is still guiding the Church as Christ promised?  Do you trust yourself more than you trust the Church? In or out: where are you?

Dear Jesus, I desire to follow You in union with Your Body, the Church. Please give me the humility to accept the teachings of the Church and to obey them. Help me to trust You through the Church more than I trust myself. Amen.

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