There is a spiritual awakening going on in America, underneath all the controversy of our politics, the continued clouds of the pandemic, all the uncertainty about where our country is heading.
People are taking stock, examining what they truly believe and what they value most deeply in their lives. I am reminded of the line from the Bible’s last book: “Awake, and strengthen what remains.” This is happening.
I do not have data or evidence to prove it. Just a feeling. But it is a strong and hopeful feeling that I am getting from my many visits to different parishes around the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, in talking to different people, and to other pastors, reading the media.
The bargain of our secular society and consumer economy has always been empty and false. It could never satisfy our deepest longings or answer the questions that we all hold in our hearts: Who am I? What kind of person should I be? What should I be living for, and why? What happens when I die?
Especially in light of the pandemic and the social unrest of these past two years, people now seem to understand more clearly that there is more to life than working to make money to buy things, more to life than seeking to be comfortable and entertained.
If we are paying attention, we can see the changes around us. It is not a mass movement. But quietly and steadily many people, of all ages and in every walk of life, are deepening their faith or making new decisions about what is important in their lives and how they want to live.
These are encouraging signs and I believe this is an evangelical opportunity for the Church. Now is the time for rebuilding with God, starting from the most basic foundations of the Church’s mission.
We are here for one purpose, to evangelize, to proclaim Christ, to tell the beautiful story of Christ’s love for us, expressed in his dying and rising from the dead for us and for our salvation, and what that means for how we live our lives.
In its most basic form, our Christian story goes like this:
We are created in the image of God and called to a blessed life in union with him and with our neighbors. Human life has a God-given “telos,” an intention and direction. Through our sin, we are alienated from God and from one another, and we live now in the shadow of our own death.
By the mercy of God and his love for each of us, we are saved through the dying and rising of Jesus Christ. Jesus reconciles us to God and our neighbors, gives us the grace to be transformed in his image, and calls us to follow him in faith, loving God and our neighbor, and working to build his kingdom on earth — all in confident hope that we will have eternal life with him in the world to come.
This is our story, our hope, and our promise in Christ. It is a story that is beautiful and true. I pray that all of us in the Church, every Catholic, will reclaim this story as their own, and proclaim it by the way they live, with joy and compassion.
As a Church, we should not be worried about numbers, or money, or influence in society. We are here to save souls, and Jesus promised us that if we seek his kingdom first, the rest will be given to us.
We have grown unaccustomed to talking in these terms — about salvation and saving souls. But people right now are longing for certainty, they want to know that their lives matter, that they have a purpose and meaning that transcends this earthly life, this bodily existence.
In the face of the widespread fear of sickness and death that has resulted from this pandemic, we need to proclaim with new confidence the truth that Christ in his love has overcome death, and that joined with him, we can, too.
That means, first of all, recovering the truth that we are creatures of body and soul, that there is a part of us that is eternal, that we are created for communion with God, for participation in his divine life.
This is the meaning of the two great holy days that we celebrate this week, All Saints’ and All Souls’. And the amazing promise of heaven, the lively awareness of eternity, should guide our path on earth.
Pray for me and I will pray for you.
And let us ask holy Mary, our hope, to stir in us the desire to bear witness to the power of her Son’s love and his resurrection in everything we do.