Wake Up World
Last November, the Holy Father called us to a year of focus and reflection on the gift of consecrated life. Those who are vowed and consecrated to God (Religious sisters/nuns, Religious order priests and brothers, consecrated women) are given as a sign to the world that God is real and that God is worth it! Just as men and women choose one another in the Sacrament of Matrimony for a lifetime of love and self-giving, so the consecrated choose and are chosen to be especially espoused to God. They lay down their lives for him and in so doing become shining lights to us all.
The theme for this year certainly reflects the personality of Pope Francis (himself a consecrated Jesuit priest): WAKE UP THE WORLD! Consecrated Religious are called to announce to the world by their lives that God is real, alive, active, and a powerful loving presence on this earth.
The consecrated lay down their lives by taking vows, the principal among them being poverty, chastity and obedience. Each of these is a deeper and more radical expression of the vocation each of us received in Baptism.
In the Gospels, there are very clear calls from Jesus to deny ourselves, to let go of what holds us back from God, to give to the poor, to free ourselves from slavery to possessions, even to be poor in spirit.
It is a scandal to the world that the majority of Christian churches, denominational and otherwise, almost totally ignore this Gospel mandate. Some preach tithing, which is a good thing to do and which we Catholics are often afraid to address. Most churches get excited about doing good for the needy at Christmas time or during depressions and natural disasters. But very few really face the reality that Jesus made Gospel poverty a part of our identity as Christians, and not some sort of extraneous activity in which we engage when the mood or the season strikes us.
It is of the very nature and definition of being a follower of Christ that we deny ourselves some of the riches the world offers and marry that denial to caring for those in need as a witness to our selfish world.
As we begin the season of Lent, as individuals and as households, let’s re-examine our life–styles and make at least one change in order to enter more deeply into the spirit of poverty. Jesus “emptied himself” for us. He calls us to follow in his footsteps….
More on this in two weeks…