Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Reading 1 Is 66:18-21 Responsorial Psalm Ps 117:1, 2 Reading II Heb 12:5-7, 11-13 Gospel Lk 13:22-30
First 400 years of Blood
If Christianity were a spectator sport it would have never survived the first four hundred years of existence. The History of the Early Church is filled with the profound witness of the Faith where Christians died by the hundreds of thousands.
In the “Old Days” it was against the law to be a Christian, if you were caught, and you did not reject you faith, you were tortured, and then killed in games of blood sport to entertain the masses in the stadiums of the Day.
Spectator Christians are not well
One of the sicknesses that afflicts our Church today is that many Christians try to live out their faith as if it were a spectator sport, something to do on Sunday morning or Saturday evening. But
• Jesus did not come and die on a cross so that we could live our faith with a luke-warmness.
• Jesus died on the cross so that the Fire of the Holy Spirit could transform our lives.
• He died on the cross to remove the division of Sin that separates us from God.
• Christ died on the cross so that we could be united with Him, Soul to Soul.
What is a Spectator Christian?
All of us suffer from sin, and so in a certain sense all of us suffer from being spectator Christians. Here is a list of excuses that Christians use to avoid from getting more involved in their faith, from getting into the game.
• My faith is really an eternal insurance program
• I am here because I fear hell more than I love God. (This ought to be reversed, fear of hell is healthy, but love of God is the motivation that Christ brought us).
• I am too busy, or I have more important things to do
• I am too tired
• I only attend mass on the big occasions (Christmas and Easter).
If this is you – then Fight Back!
If you recognize that one or more of these descriptions (or others) fits you then now is the time to fight back; To break out of the trap of these lies and to enter into the game to win.
Christianity is a Contact Sport!
Spectator sports are for entertainment, they are eye candy to distract us from the issues in our lives that really matter. Christianity calls us to live life like a contact sport. The Christian life calls us to confront tough issues, first in our own spirituality, and then in that of the society and world around us. We are called to be the Salt of the Earth, and the Light of the World. Salt flavors and light illuminates. We are called to live lives that transform the world from that of Sin into that of Grace.
Two ways we get into the Game
Flash Conversion – on a retreat or some religious experience - This happened to St. Francis of Assisi.
The life of slow but continuous conversion - Pope John Paul II, and Mother Theresa did not fall off the pumpkin truck as holy men and women, rather they worked hard at their vocation to holiness every day of their lives. Jesus says “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”
It is for this reason that St. Paul encourages us to live a life of discipline. Do not forget the goal that you are striving for, that goal is a holy life, a life that is on fire with the Holy Spirit, that is transforming the world that we live in one soul at a time.
Once you’re in the Game – How do you play to your potential?
There is a great parallel between how someone like John Elway or Jay Cutler prepares to win at football, and how John Paul II or Mother Theresa pursued God.
What are the elements of a solid Spiritual Training Program?
Prayer – Do I pray in the morning and in the evening?
Fellowship with other Christians; companionship on The Way.
• Do I fast? Do I try to keep a meatless Friday in honor of the death of Christ.
• Do I live a life of sacrifice for my Wife? For my Husband? For my Children? For my parents?
What can I sacrifice – Some bad habit I have? Whining? Ten minutes of television time / time with the Good news instead of the news paper. Giving my spouse a quiet break after a long day at work?
• Do I Struggle with a deeper addiction?
• Pornography? Alcohol? Drugs? Violence/Anger? Video Games? Gambling? – Sacrifice is the key to curing these sicknesses
Do I know the Game? Do I spend time with Holy Reading? Scripture? The Catechism? Apologetics?
When was the last time I went to Confession? How can I get better at seeking Christ if I never seek healing for my wounds?
Evaluate your own Spiritual Life – Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you where you need to change.
Mission of the Whole Church
Jesus Christ left the whole Church with a mission – To carry His salvation to the ends of the Earth. That salvation is not carried there by words spoken in mass, but rather it is carried there by the actions of the whole Church. We are all called to live our lives so that the world witnesses the Truth of Christ’s words through the actions of our lives.
If we can succeed in doing this, then we will not find ourselves at the ends of our lives saying to the God – “Lord, let us in…” or “We ate and drank with you and listened to you in our streets.” But rather we will then find ourselves at the banquet, living the reality of the Kingdom of God. Christianity is not a Spectator Sport – It is a Contact Sport. It is time for us to get in the Game!