Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Reflecting on Deuteronomy 11:18, 26-28, 32 Matthew 7:21-27
Talk about taking things literally. Moses told the people to hold so fast to the word of God that it would be bound at their wrists and on their foreheads, and still today the Orthodox Jewish man prepares for prayer by binding actual little boxes at his wrist and forehead, with tiny scrolls from the book of Deuteronomy inside them. These phylacteries have served as prayer companions—Catholics would call them sacramentals—since at least the time of Christ (Mt. 23:5). They signify that the wearer has taken the Word of God into his heart and soul.
What would it be like if we Catholics wore our faith on our sleeves like that? Of course there are a few outward signs of our inward faith. We place a crèche on the lawn during the Christmas season and wear ashes on our foreheads at the start of Lent.
These are signs to the outside world (and reminders to ourselves) that we are indelibly marked by Christ. But my friend Vincente asked me a great question the other day: why don’t we Catholics make more of a mark on the culture than we do? Why do we absorb the culture so much and correct the culture so little?
Why are we proud that, after a lifetime of Catholic formation, we can go out into the workplace and blend in so well that no one would ever guess that we are Catholic?
How unsettling to wonder if, after a lifetime of lukewarm “face time” in church, we will come before Christ at our deaths and he will say I never knew you.
What do you think is an authentic outward sign of your faith?
What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
I’ve always been uncomfortable with aggressive evangelization that seems unconnected to faith in action. I think there is so much more I can to do be a person of love and peace in my daily interractions with people. It’s a simple thing, but if I can strive to always lift other’s up, NEVER gossip or speak ill about another (even little things) and never make it easy for others do the same – I think that is HUGE. It’s so hard for me to be completely consistent with this – IMAGINE the change it could make!
I think the most important way we can present an outward sign of our faith is to be present to the people we encounter every day, everywhere. Open a door for someone whose arms are full of shopping bags. Listen to someone’s problems without trying to fix them. Drive an elderly person to a doctor’s appointment or on errands without acting as if you’re doing that person a favor.
Look at doing something for another as a gift to yourself, because it is an opportunity to demonstrate your faith.
“…blend in so well that no one would notice that we are Catholic?” – – Personally, I am not that interested in “getting points for being Catholic” because the Christian work that we do, whether ‘explicitly invoked as Catholic or not” still redound to the honor and glory of God. St Francis says preach the Gospel all the times and if necessary, use words. Having said that, it does not preclude our ‘tooting our horns’ if and when the circumstances call for it to answer queries by others as to our internal motivations and faith background. But imagine the opposite scenario if the more than 300 denominations, sects, faiths, religions, etc. would be waving triumphalistic religious banners and innumerable signs and billboards to proselytize directly or indirectly whenever a good deed is done? – – Cris
There are some outward signs such as medals, crosses, and my Sisters of Charity Associate medallion that come to mind. But, other denominations wear some of these items and they are symbolic of Christianity more than Catholicism. I agree with Teresa that our interactions with creation are the most important outward sign of our faith. Having a smile for each person we meet, listening with a true presence to those who need to be heard, understanding the cultural differences that make up the diversity in our society, accepting people where they are, speaking out against injustices for those who have no voice is a beginning. Living the Gospel, asking Christ to help me be better at living the Great Commandment and asking for forgiveness when I fail to be the best I can be in that regard; that’s the outward sign I strive for and am not so concerned that it screams “I am Catholic”, but rather that Christ lives within my heart and soul; that I love all God’s creation and make an effort to grow in my ability to be the co-creator in this evolving universe that he has created me to be. Years ago Fr. Pat asked us to question if we feel we are a better person this year than we were last year, and that has stuck with me like glue. So, from the beginning of the year until Easter, that’s the process I use. It’s always disappointing to find so many areas where growth has been less than my goals, but certainly is a motivator for the future!!