Not all words are trivial or false and so we should hold onto the true, beautiful, and good words. These words actually give life rather than take it. These words build us up—even as they trim some things down. These words are not always the loudest or most entertaining but they are the best. Thank you for allowing the Church to say these words to you today.
What word does the Church give you? “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” St. Paul the Apostle wrote these words 2000 years ago to the Church in Rome- not a message to pagans not yet converted but to baptized and practicing Catholics. Christians of every day need to be reminded the same thing. Do not conform to the spirit, the wisdom, or the words of this age but be transformed by God’s spirit.
Perhaps St. Paul’s inspiration was the story of St. Peter in the Gospel? Mere minutes before, Jesus declared Peter to be the Rock on which he would build his Church. Did that guarantee that Peter would always listen to the Word of Life? Did that guarantee that Peter would NOT listen to the flattering words of this age? No, so Jesus speaks non-amusing, unflattering and even stinging words to Peter. “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Why? Because Jesus loves Peter enough to keep him from error. Might Jesus ever speak to us in this way? Probably. In fact, please Jesus, DO speak to me when I am in error.
In the year to come, you will hear many words on campus. Some will amuse, flatter, hurt, confuse or delight. Make yourself available to the Words of Jesus Christ, most especially through the Sacraments. His words may challenge or comfort but, when we seek Him in the Church they will always bring life if we are open.
Finally, we all need the Church. As Catholics we do not claim to be perfect, not even the Pope and especially not me. We all need the Catholic Church to support and encourage us when the voice of Jesus is faint or causes us distress. Our enemy loves for us to try things alone or to think that we are the only one who bear our burdens. Our enemy loves to foster impatience within us. You are not alone. Here the words of our own Pope: “Even for the believing man who is entirely open to God, the words of God are not comprehensible and evident right away. Those who demand that the Christian message be as immediately understandable as any banal statement hinder God.”
In this year to come, seek and listen for the Word of Jesus, seek the guidance of the Church and know that you are not alone.
Cross posted at www.piusxiinewman.com