July 8, 2012 – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
As Christian disciples, we are all called to proclaim the Gospel to the world. Jesus Himself gives us this responsibility with His great commission, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19-20).
Such has been the case through the centuries. Christ established the Church so that all men might come to know Him, and those who have encountered Him are charged with the responsibility — which, if we think about it, is truly an honor and a privilege — to help others do the same.
As St. Francis of Assisi once said, we are to, “preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”
Everything we say and do should bear witness to the truth of Christ, to the love Christ has for us, and to the immense amount of grace we receive as we live this wonderful life of discipleship. Our mission is to live for Christ and to call others to do the same, and we are truly blessed to live such a life.
However, it isn’t always easy. In fact, it hardly ever is. We live in a fallen world wrought with sin and selfishness, so there is bound to be much opposition to a life of selfless living. There are bound to be many temptations, calling us to put our wants, our needs, and ourselves before all else. But as today’s readings remind us, we are not alone. The call to live selflessly, for the sake of the Gospel, is not an easy one. Even the prophets of old and Jesus Himself dealt with great opposition.
First we hear the Lord assure the prophet Ezekiel:
“…Rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day. Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you” (first reading).
And then Jesus Himself explains:
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house” (Gospel).
Yet, we know, the reward is worth the hardships. We live for Christ, because we were created to do so – to know, love, and serve Him – every single one of us. And so we know that when we do, we not only please Him, but we become more fully who we were created to be. We are more fulfilled as human beings, and therefore, much more genuinely happy people. And that’s not to mention the eternal reward we await in joyful hope.
The life of Christian discipleship is a life worth living, even in this world today.
We must remember who we live for and what truth we proclaim, and make no excuses for it nor, in any way, alter the Gospel to fit the world.
Many of us may experience persecution for our way of life. We may be mocked and jeered. And at times, because of the ways of the world, it may be hard to stand up for what it right. But remember, the Lord promises, our reward will be great in heaven.
What’s more, I am reminded of many converts whose stories began with great opposition to the Gospel message. Some even spit on the crucifix or desecrated the Eucharist, and yet, through the grace of God, they encountered Christ and turned to Him. And now, such men and women are some of the most passionate Catholics in the world today.
Preach the Gospel at all times – in all you say and do. For the Gospel we proclaim is one of power and grace. Living in such a way, each and every one of us is bound to make a difference in the world, bound to bring others to Christ and to make disciples of all nations, just as we are called to do!
What an exciting call. What an exciting life we lead.