Be Imitators of Christ

02-11-2018Weekly ReflectionDeacon Jeff Arner

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I just want to share some national statistics with you that our Bishop Olmsted had gathered. "Since AD 2000, 14 million Catholics have left the faith, parish religious education of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19%, infant baptism has dropped by 28%, adult baptism has dropped by 31%, and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%." As our bishop has said about this: "This is a serious breach, a gaping hole in Christ's battle lines."

These statistics should be alarming to all of us faith filled Catholics. I know when I read this I'm filled with sadness over those who have wandered away and angry that we seem to be letting this happen without awareness or not making a conscious effort to reach out to those who have left this amazing faith.

In today's readings we hear that those who have leprosy were not allowed within the community to protect others from getting infected. This infection that people had made them feel less of a person and not wanted. Everyone ostracized them. God, through the person of Christ reached out to a leper and touch him after being moved with pity when the leper said: "If you wish, you can make me clean." Just reflect on those words for a moment: "If you wish, you can make me clean." Could we perhaps hear ourselves saying those same words to Christ for some infection we have within ourselves? "If you wish, you can make me clean." What is it that Christ can heal you from? What is it that is keeping you from being more holy, from becoming a Saint? I just heard a speaker that reminded me that there are two kinds of people. Those who are "saints" and those who are "ain'ts".

My dear brothers and sisters, if we are not made clean or not willing to become saints then we are going to see a consistent decline in attendance or worse yet, more people who are searching for a greater meaning or worth in their life and they are turning away from the source of our strength, love, mercy, and hope because we aren't inviting them in. How can we possibly show others the power of God if we are not willing to ask God for healing within ourselves, marriages, and relationships with our children, grandchildren, neighbors, coworkers, etc…? How will people be attracted to God if we can't share our own relationship with God our true Father. Because that is what it takes for someone to turn to God is someone sharing his or her faith with them. This leper had to know whom Jesus was to ask him to make him clean. Someone had to share who Jesus was with this leper so that the leper knew who to ask. If you are worried about being rejected, shot down because you are a Catholic then you are not in the saint category you are an ain't. How are people going to know the true power of God and the love that God has for us if you are not sharing that God relationship with those around you. How will people go to God about their own illnesses if you don't share how God healed your marriage, or other relationships that were damaged by sin? God doesn't give us anything that we must hold onto. Hewants us to share his healing with others around us.

We need to talk about the power of a sacramental marriage. How that sacrament that was celebrated in the Church provided us with the power to resist evil destroying the gift of our spouse when we have had our own difficulties. We need to share how our relationship with God the Father helps us resist evil when we apply the sacrament of reconciliation in our lives and how forgiving others can heal those other relationships we have. We need to share the importance of "Baptism" and how that sacrament provides for us not only the healing from the sin of our first parents but how through Baptism we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to give us the strength and tools to live a Saintlylife.

People won't know that they need God to save them if we don't share how God has saved us. Again reflect on the words of this leper that has been introduced to us: "If you wish, you can make me clean." God will be moved with pity with youif you ask God through humility. How could God deny this very strength for you if you only ask? He can't, and He won't.

St. Paul also reminds us in the second reading from 1 Corinthians. "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ". We can only give what we have. There is nothing greater than having Christ as the true ruler of our lives. Let us be imitators of Christ so that Christ can bring about strength, healing, mercy and love to all we encounter.

Deacon Jeff Arner