This question was asked of me today by none other than St. Luke himself. It was also asked of about 1,200,000,000 others around the world. All of us heard the same question. Even those who do not receive ParishWorld.net heard it. Listen closely and you will hear it again:
"You, however, must again heed the LORD'S voice and carry out all his commandments which I now enjoin on you. Then the LORD, your God, will increase in more than goodly measure the returns from all your labors, the fruit of your womb, the offspring of your livestock, and the produce of your soil; for the LORD, your God, will again take the light in your prosperity, even as he took delight in your fathers',if only you heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the
LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul. "For this command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, 'Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?' Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?' No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out." (Deuteronomy, 30; 7 - 14)
If you were at Mass today, (you should have been) you joined the other 1.2 billion Catholics around the world in hearing St. Luke quote this passage and the other passage from Deuteronomy which everyone knew and still knows, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you
today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest." (DEUTERONOMY, 6; 4 - 7)
The Scripture reading went from there to the great psalm 69 which starts off by saying,
"Save me, God, for the waters have reached my neck. I have sunk into the mire of the deep, where there is no foothold. I have gone down to the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me. I am weary with crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes have failed, looking for my God. (Psalm 69; 1-3)
Think of the poor guy who was abandoned by the side of the road. What psalm was he thinking about? Then along comes St. Luke and he has the story about the smart-aleck who asks, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus does not dignify the question by giving it an answer. He tells a story and then asks a question in return: "Who do you think was this man's neighbor?"
Check out the Burning Question Blog and insert your own answer, but before you do that, listen to why I am a Catholic.
1. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people tuned in to the same spiritual question on the same day?
2. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people talking to Jesus about the same topic on the same day?
3. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people opening the Bible to the same chapter and verse on the same day, 365 days per year?
4. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people examining their conscience about how they treat other people in their everyday lives during the week?
5. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people saying to themselves, "maybe I should go to Mass tomorrow morning too."
6. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people appreciating the real sacramental presence of Jesus Christ Himself in their midst for an entire solar cycle around the earth? Not only today, but every day of the week!
7. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people saying "Hello, Jesus" or some other little prayer of greeting as they pass in front of a church?8. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people to agree on a "signature" behavior as a definite sign of their faith for centuries before and centuries to come?
9. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people to agree that their earthly leader has their best spiritual interest at heart without fear that he will make a mistake about it?
10. What other Christian group can get 1.2 billion people to agree that earthly and spiritual life have seven stages that call for the active presence of Jesus on the way to salvation?11. What other Christian group can get the entire world hooked on the TV coverage of the funeral of their earthly leader?
12. What other Christian group can get the entire world to trust their spiritual leader to tell the truth all ways and at all times?
I am not about numbers, but I am about the power of Christ's presence on earth. There is a richness about volume. The volume of Catholic spirituality is not about the numbers, it is about the unity. The connection with Catholics around the globe in all time zones was not arithmetic, it was unique. It was joined to the spirituality of the Apostles. Catholic unity is not of today, it is of Apostolic times. It reaches back into the cenacle. It has no shame when it crashes the party in Bethany. It knows that it is a part of Peter's vision telling him to eat what would be presented to him in Caesarea Maritima because what God had made good, he should not consider impure.
Catholics are as comfortable in Jerusalem as they are in Rome. They are as comfortable in
Athens as they are in Moscow. They move comfortably between Constantinople and Damascus. Did I hear someone ask about Alexandria? Barcelona? Paris? London? ... London? Yes, even London.
I am so Catholic that even my sons wonder why I am not the pope. But actually, my wife is more Catholic than I am. We get so excited about our discussions sometimes that our sons (adults now) wonder if a divorce is imminent or not. They know that she cannot be the pope.
Two things are for sure:
1. If you have turned your back on the Catholic Church, you owe yourself a very seriously deep examination of conscience.
2. When I die and you hear about it, remember that I believed in God enough to assure you that I was walking hand in hand with Him and that you did not have to cry.
If you are still facing away from His church, then you had better start crying.