You certainly remember, dear Brethren our meditation during Lent when we were considering the Cross of Jesus Christ as the main source of our faith and therefore as the main inspiration for our lives. You certainly remember the great proclamation of faith of the Apostle Saint Paul who wants to know only Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
After Lent, Easter came, and we put behind us the austerity of this holy time and the rigor of penance in order to celebrate the great mystery of the Resurrection of Our Savior and to rejoice in it. The feast of Pentecost ended a liturgical cycle and we have been now for 6 weeks in this time after Pentecost that will lead us to the end of the liturgical year. It is the time that is given to us in order to continue in our own lives the mysteries of the life and of the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is no longer the life of Jesus that we directly contemplate during the Liturgy but rather His teaching that we listen to and that we try to assimilate, though we can hardy separate the life of Jesus from His teaching. Living the life of Christ, according to His own teaching is now our program and Saint Paul reminds us today that we have been baptized in Christ Jesus and in His death.
Therefore our Baptism makes sense only if we accept to crucify our old man and to destroy the body of sin, because it is the necessary condition to live unto God. The Gospel shows us that following Jesus means accepting certain privations and inconveniences, like this crowd that followed Him for three days and had nothing to eat. Christian life is basically a life of renunciation and of abandon: renunciation to Satan first, as the rite of Baptism invites us to do, and therefore renunciation to sin; renunciation to the world; finally renunciation to ourselves. But these renunciations would be unbearable without a total abandon to God’s Providence who provides for all our need, provided that we accept our condition and fulfill our duties according to our state of life. Renunciation and abandon certainly does not mean passivity; it rather means that we put all our heart, our energy, our strength to love and serve God. And we do that we the confidence that our sacrifices, our renunciations, and even persecutions, when they come, are not vain, but are rather the beginnings of eternal life, the life unto God.
Renouncing to sin requires training and a discipline of the will that can more easily be gained when renouncing ourselves, especially with the virtue of obedience. Discipline and obedience have always been, even on a mere natural level, the mark of the strong, and a key to success. It is true in many fields such as education, sport, army, etc…. And when these virtues are elevated by the Divine grace, it is a key that opens the gates of heaven. Renouncing the world is more delicate, as we have to renounce its spirit but not its physical reality. In fact, unless you have a particular vocation such as monastic life, you have to sanctify yourself in the world and there are many ways of doing that.
First, it supposes that you are not afraid of it. The world is indeed a large field of apostolate in which you should be comfortable; you should be aware of its danger, yes, but also comfortable. Do not be afraid to be involved in its life so that you can bring the testimony of your faith in all your activities: at work, in your neighborhood, in the different association in which you may be involved, in your sport teams, at school, at university, wherever you go, whatever you do. Bring always with you the light of Christ and His love. Do not remain entrenched at home, but participate in the mission of the Church. The Church is visible, but it is not only visible by her churches, but also by her schools – and I can never emphasize enough about their necessity today – and different associations and activities. Be involved in the life of your town, your county, your state, your country. If you do not, then you may complain about the evilness of our times in vain. Abandoning the battlefield means giving the victory to the enemies of Christ. If you have the required abilities, run for positions in the world, not for yourself but for Christ. The more good Catholics are in charge in the many areas of social and public life, the better it will be for the common good of our societies. This can be done as well on the smallest local level as well as on a national or even international level. Do not let someone else take the place you can have in this world!
Yes there are many wrong and bad things in the world today. But there would be certainly less if we all would take our responsibility in the society and even in the Church. And what we certainly need first is to know the teaching of the Church on many subjects and issues that regard the social life; what we call the social doctrine of the Church and that regard many areas such as education, politics, economy or arts.
With the Grace of God, we shall try to expose this beautiful doctrine in other sermons and conference soon.