As we prepare to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birthday, He invites us once again through His Holy Word to truly live our Catholic Christian faith (Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8 ). When we only appear to live our faith, we’re like the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to be baptized by John in the Jordan River (Mark 1:1-8). They were Israel’s religious and social leaders. They knew their prayers and what to do at Synagogue – they appeared to be models of religion. That’s why Saint John the Baptist warns them that simply appearing to be a believer wasn’t enough, that they needed to repent of their sins and to let their faith change their hearts.
To live our Catholic Christian faith, we need to let it change our hearts. As disciples of Jesus Christ, this means that we have a personal friendship with Jesus, that we not only know about Him, but that we know, love and serve God now so that by His grace we will be eternally happy with Him in Heaven. Going to Mass is foundational to living our faith, yet even at Mass we can get casual about living our faith and not really pray the Mass. Many have become so casual and indifferent that they’ve stopped going to Mass – fewer than half of all Catholics and Protestants go to church on Sundays (nationwide, many students in religious education and in Catholic schools do not attend Sunday Mass; for various reasons, they neglect going to Mass, which is the best “class” for knowing, loving and serving Jesus). Let’s keep praying for and inviting families, friends and others to truly live the faith.
When we truly live our faith, we do so in word and deed, for we are baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, called to prepare the Way of the Lord (Isaiah 40; Mark 1; Matthew 7:21-28 and 25:1-46). So, we spend time with God in His Word (not just at Mass); pray; frequent the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession; proclaim and defend the Truth with love about God’s gift of life and marriage; and we bear the fruits of His Spirit, fruit that will last, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness (Galatians 5; John 15:16) – indeed, God does not call us to be indifferent or apathetic like artificial plants, which look nice but bear no fruit. He calls us to live the faith and realize that every moment matters, because Jesus Christ is Present at every moment (Matthew 28:16-20). When we forget this, we tend to sin – and then we need to repent, seeking God’s forgiveness and mercy, striving to live holy lives, conducting ourselves in holiness and devotion (Mark 1; 2 Peter 3:8-14).
As we strive to live our Catholic Christian faith, let us remember to be aware of God’s Presence at every moment, living the virtues of faith, hope and love in our words and deeds, and praying each day. By doing so, we can repel the devil and discouragement, develop a personal relationship with Jesus, prepare the Way of the Lord in our hearts and daily life, and bring the light and love of Jesus Christ to every moment. As we prepare to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birthday, may we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint Clement and all the saints to help us prepare with an awareness of God’s Presence at every moment, allowing Him to sanctify those moments, living the virtues of faith, hope and love, bearing the fruits of the Spirit, praying to the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit, more and more conformed to the heart of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, as He leads us and guides us to life everlasting in Heaven. Amen.
With peace and prayers in Christ,