Today while I was at Mass for the Feast of All Saints, I realized that the Church is not JUST about evangelization.
The priest prayed such a beautiful prayer during Mass that spoke of the great City of Saints that we are all walking towards as pilgrims on a journey. What is the way to get to this great city? It brought me back to the universal call that Saint John Paul II called us to at the beginning of the third millennium: the call to holiness.
In the late pope’s letter, he stressed holiness as of all importance for the whole Church, pointing out with the fathers of Vatican II that all the Christian faithful, of whatever state or rank, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity”.
This goes for all of us, no matter where we find ourselves in the vineyard of the Lord; whether the Pope, a Queen, or a brother who holds the door open, or a mom who is changing diapers (like my wife Sara is probably doing right now – love you!). There are saints of all kinds, ages, status, and ethnicity. And this goes for you too.
It goes for us as part of the NET movement too. Although evangelization is (literally) our middle name, we know that evangelization is impossible without a deep life of holiness. Without a personal love for Jesus Christ we are just a clanging cymbal (1 Cor. 13:1), a bunch of youthful noise and skits and songs. Our Lord made it very clear how we are to look at anything we try to do for Him: Without Me, he said, you can do nothing (John 15:5). He makes it clear to us that he doesn’t just want us to work for Him, but he wants us to work WITH Him.
I once challenged someone to pray more. I told him the old saying, you can’t give what you don’t have.
“Well look at me,” he responded. “I’m giving lots and it seems to be working.”
In the moment, I was so startled by his rather indignant response I didn’t know what to say. But now after a few more years in the workspace of evangelization, a deeper truth rings out. If I could go back in time, I would have responded to him the words of the Gospel: “For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?” (Matt 16:26)
What good is it to be busy and get lots done, to entertain youth, to organize events, and possibly even win the attention and affection of youth (or whoever you’re evangelizing) – and yet lose your own heart? Lose your own soul?
If I spent my whole life working for the evangelization of young people and yet at the end of my life had no personal, deep, loving, intimate, relationship with Jesus Christ it would all be garbage.
Thanks be to God for such an awesome feast today to remind us that we’re all called to be saints. It reminds us to step back from our busy activities and remember the reason – the Person, rather – that we serve.
Walking towards sainthood means having a full heart.
Walking towards sainthood means spending time with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Walking towards sainthood means being steeped in the Word.
Walking towards sainthood sometimes means just BEING and not worrying so much about the DOING.
“When we do our DOING out of the pleasure God has in our BEING, we will do much more than we could ever imagine.” Jonathan David Helser