Saturday, November 7, 2009
To be Catholic is not synonym with being formally an adherent to the Catholic Church, for the Catholic Church is much more than how it is shown in the world. All people of good will, Christian and non-Christian, are related in a way unknown to us, to the Catholic Church. Even atheists who do good, belong to the Catholic Church. On the other hand, it is not enough to be formally attached to the Catholic Church. The Holy Spirit works in every human person open to His deep and incomprehensible love. Is not God free to give His love to everyone? Then why do we question Him? Even death cannot stand in God's utter pouring love. John Chrysostom the great Eastern saint of the 4th century said that God runs after everyone in order to only find a tear in his eyes so that He can save him. If a fallible man, however saintly he is, can describe God's love in this way, how beautiful is the ultimate reality in itself? And the Catholic Church who is the sign of God's salvific history with man, how can it not be the instrument through which everyone is invited in Christ to the eternal kingdom? Everyone means every human person on earth of any race, of any religion, of any faith and of any culture. "I knock on the door" says the saviour of all. Those who come to receive Him in their hearts and work with His grace are Catholic. This does not mean, however, that all non-Catholics are able to receive the same as Catholics who practice their faith for in the Catholic Church alone exist the dimensions of full unity through the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, all sacraments, Tradition from which the Bible was born, and Apostolic succession. Looking at the big picture, we recall that Christ said "Who is not against you is with you."
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The Lord's prayer has this beautiful phrase "Hallowed be Thy Name" which traditionally has been interpreted as the Christian call for giving glory to God. But what is God's glory? In Christianity, it is understood that God is glorified in his creatures. If ancient religions understood glorifying God as an act of slave worship constantly fearful of a distant deity and always in need of the master's favour, the development of Christian tradition understands it as loving God with all our hearts, not out of fear but in awe of His presence. His ineffable love of creation cannot and can never be matched by any love, however deep, given to Him by any creature. And the base of this thought is that God loved us first. In fact, our existence is due to his free love. This is why saints are saints. It is not because they gave God anything he lacked. It is not because they performed great deeds. It is not because they contributed to the growth of justice and peace. It is only because in their humility they loved God as the moon reflects the light of the Sun. Saints realize that their love to God and everyone around them is only a reflection of God's first love. The words of Christ about the sinner who annointed his feet with ointment still ring in our ears today "Therefore I tell you her sins which are many are forgiven for she loved much" (Luke 7: 47). What did this sinner give God? She was embroiled in adultery. But because she loved much , she is forgiven. Love is the language of God. He cares about every single creature but never imposes himself. His justice is mercy. And his mercy is love to the end. What the saints do is nothing but love. And, contrary to popular belief, they are not lacking today. Blessed Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) known for his big heart said that in our age there are as many saints as there ever was in any generation in history. The great John Paul II canonized as many saints as all his predecessors did in many centuries. His motto was "Do not be afraid. Open your doors to Christ." And in these days, when the entire Catholic Church celebrates All Saints, and All Souls, it is an opportunity for us to hope that many will be saints, including this generation. The Church always hopes against hope. Albert Camus wrote in his philosophy about the Absurd the myth of sisyphus who was sent to the underworld because he angered the Greek gods and challenged death. His fate was to push a stone up a mountain then watch it fall back to the bottom. His punishment was to go down everytime from the top of the mountain to its bottom to roll the stone back to the top. I see in sisyphus the sign of hope. Sisyphus will eventually overcome his fate - Even if he has to watch the stone falling back he will not yield! Saints are of the same perseverence. God only knows no limit to perseverence in his love that overflows in spite of a sinful world. He surely cares to give it to us. Hallowed be His Name.