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Summary: It is a priority for us to call those who have left the Church to return to fellowship and the sacraments.

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Monday of 20th Week in Course

August 16, 2010

You Shall Be My Witnesses

The people of the Old Covenant were twice exiled from Judea. To this first group, stuck in Babylon, the priest Ezekiel was sent as a prophet. A mime prophet. He acted out in his life the reality of exile, suffering, and purification. His wife, it is clear, was everything to him, just as the Jerusalem temple was everything to the Jews. Both were lost. I think it is important to realize that God allowed the temple to be desecrated and burned down because His people had desecrated it first with their idolatry, fornication and oppression of the poor. Similarly, when Jesus asked the young man in the Gospel to turn his back on everything he treasured and follow him, gaining treasure in heaven, the man said “no,” and immediately knew that he had made a poor decision. Mark’s Gospel says, literally, storm clouds filled his face. We cannot be truly happy until we give ourselves utterly to following Christ.

Archbishop Gomez turns our attention to a large population of Americans with stormy faces–baptized Catholics “who have fallen away from the practice of their faith and from the sacraments.” He calls us to “ make it a priority to reach out to these brothers and sisters . . .and invite them to come home. . .[to] talk [to them] about what is keeping them from the Church. . .[and about] Christ’s living presence in his Church and in his sacraments.” Why? Whatever their real or perceived hurt, “the happiness we all seek is found only in communion with Christ in his Church.” Of special value are the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist, which are only truly present where the priesthood is present.

For those who have wandered off because of the hard sayings of the Gospel, we cannot respond by treating doctrines that offend our selfishness and pride as being of less importance. We may not be called to literally sell everything and give it to the poor, but to follow Christ, we, and those we call, will have to give up anything that keeps us from loving God and our neighbor. Many turn away from the Lord and the Church, and for those we must continue to pray. But we can also rejoice with those who, like Zacchaeus, return and find their joy and gratitude in the Savior.


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