The following is an excerpt (with minor edits) that completes a homily I delivered on the 3rd Sunday of Lent. If you’d like to hear the complete audio plus a reflection on the content, please listen to my podcast “The Discerning Catholic” which can be found on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
The Gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Lent, in which Jesus rebukes the ongoing business in the Temple during Passover, demonstrates that “we’ve always done it this way” is an obstacle to evangelization. The Court of the Gentiles is flooded with pilgrims and money changers and believers, and yet their activity is actually making it more difficult for the Gentiles to get a glimpse of what the faith is all about. If we are not careful, we can flood our own parishes and departments with practices that are stuck in their ways, and which can be obstacles to others joining in.
God will give you the help you need to make changes to your own routine that will bring you closer to him. God will help me take up my cross as I figure out ways to connect with young people that may not be in my wheelhouse. This is how we grow; it is how we become the disciples that we are called to be. And don’t settle for “this is the way it’s always been done” in the Church most of all, please! With the dynamic talent throughout our diocese who knows what can be unleashed when we work together? Bishop Kopacz has put forth a vision which calls us to Embrace Diversity, Serve Others and Inspire Disciples. That is a great place to start. The Bishop is our Shepherd, and we trust that he is Spirit-led in his efforts to build up the diocese, but each one of us has a part to play in bringing this vision about.
Some might say, “oh these are empty words, they are just a nice thing to slap on a poster.” Well yeah, they are empty until we fill them! And are we? Are we seeking to embrace diversity in a true way? Not in just saying we appreciate other cultures but in engaging and learning about the differences and similarities we have and inviting people to come to mass that are not just in our social circle? In the Vocation Department I want our seminarian poster to “look like” our diocese. I want men from all corners of our boundaries and from all backgrounds, and I need to develop strategies and skills to make that happen. I’m planning on going to brush up on my conversational Spanish this summer in order to connect with the parents of potential Hispanic discerners to keep them in the loop of their son’s journey. Are we serving others? As Vocation Director I need to serve our seminarians and discerners by pouring myself out for them; by spending time listening to their needs and responding. We all are called to do this in our own way with those entrusted to us. And are we inspiring disciples? First of all are we learning from our Good Teacher Jesus and then becoming witnesses to others through that relationship, and is that relationship leading us to be joy-filled and attractive to those who are struggling with their faith?
We can’t just do the same old thing and expect a different result. We must become evangelists to the fullest extent of the term. We cannot only promote that which we are comfortable with about our faith, but we must learn more and more about what Jesus teaches and become so engulfed in God’s love for us that we simply want to do the will of the Father and nothing else. This will lead to a dynamism that is attractive, and which parts the red tape of “we’ve always done it this way” and leads more people through the doors of our parishes and through the doors of the seminary as well!