July 9, 2016
“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (From today's Gospel)
A group of friends motivated me to visit the Bronx Zoo this week. I have to admit my attention span is very short, so the idea of watching animals through the distance didn’t appeal to me at first. However some fraternal time is always worth the try.
As we entered the birds’ area, we stopped by the residence of the African Spoonbills, a type of bird who seemed to be comfortably assimilated to the fake forest habitat, and acted as if no one was watching them. The beauty of them was not what impressed me the most, but that unlike the other birds they had no glass to prevent them from escaping.
There was a sign that read:
“Why don't the birds fly out?: Birds stay where they have light, shelter, perches and food- the comforts of home! There is nothing to attract them in bare halls.”
Nothing attracts them in bare halls? What about their freedom?
How many of us conform to this way of life? We stay where comfort is, and not necessarily material comfort, but spiritual.
We all want to be saints, but let's keep in mind that Saints like St. Francis of Assisi went against their own spiritual comfort. Francis of Assisi approached the lepers he greatly disliked at first, thus a greater love was given to him which he shared with the world. He went farther than his own spiritual comfort, he just didn’t stay converted, but "flew out" and assisted God in people’s conversions.
From what I have observed in myself and in many people who minister in our church, we often do what we personally like in our ministries, we usually never attempt to go for those “lepers” we dislike or haven't even met yet, we plan things according to what we know and what has worked in the past, but never take the risk to go deeper, to trust and be open to the Holy Spirit present in others.
How many of us conforms to live behind a glassless window? We stay where spiritual comfort is. Christ has opened the windows to a new world but we seem not to be attracted to “bare halls”.
Sometimes I feel like we are living in a zoo, people watch on the other side of the window what we do as Catholics, but they don't usually get to see how we share this Catholicism with others...the world needs to see the gospel in action, in real life, in 3D. It almost feels like our experience of the gospel is being watered down to a bunch of catholic events and after gatherings at a local bar.
PEOPLE: WE NEED TO START FLYING OUT! We need to start setting the world on fire for real, there is great misery taking place around our blocks but sometimes we wait for the mission trips overseas to start loving...if this the case, what a waste of Christ love given to us! He may be calling from down the block. Please Lord forgive us!
We need to gather and go love the poor, we need to gather and go visit the sick, we need to gather and go bring hope to the ones in prison, we need to gather and teach the youth real manhood and womanhood, we need to gather and sing to the elderly, we need to gather and do things no one has done before, we need to fly out…And this is not a matter of whether one is ready or not, or if one can or cannot do something, it is about willingness. Christ walked in pain carrying a cross for others, his cross became those wings that elevated him to his glory. What if we make the world about others regardless of our own personal struggles?
At the end of the day, denying Christ is not justthe act of the single word “NO”, or not having a well put prayer life, or not saying grace before meals in public… denying Christ is also having received him in our lives, having a personal relationship with him, and failing to bringing him to the world. And we're all guilty of this. We need his mercy more than anything!
A bird who won’t fly is useless for the kingdom no matter how big and beautiful its wings are.
There is no greater denial than knowing Christ and not making him known to others… and this cannot be done from local bar.
Intercede for us!