By Mark Kurowski
“Yeah, one time you told me how beautiful the Catholic social teachings are, but I failed to tell you, we just don’t live it,” said Fr. Bob Gehrig, a former colleague in urban ministry. We were talking about my journey into the Catholic faith. What I discovered was that besides the encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, the Catholic Church is not necessarily the greener patch in God’s yard all of the time. I hear the same concept from our very faithful Muslim friends in the Catholic-Muslim Dialogue in University Ministry: we live our faith in a very compartmentalized way.
We love the emotional highs of Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and retreats., we love “knowing that we are right.” The denying of self, being obedient and loving our neighbor as ourselves? Uh, not so much.
Easter is a season. All throughout this “season” of Easter in the Bible, Jesus is appearing to his peeps. It is one encounter after another with a Lord whose body defies physics, is misshapen from the crucifixion–but good as new– and challenges people to believe in him once again. Will they believe enough to do something about it?
Easter is a joyful time, but it is also one that should blow our service oriented minds. Matthew’s Gospel ends after the resurrection appearances with Jesus saying “Go!” Mark’s Gospel ends with Jesus recounting all of the mighty deeds people who believe in him will do. Luke decided that it wasn’t enough to just tell us what Jesus said at the end. He wrote an entire second volume that recounted what the faithful did because they believed in the resurrection of a man who is also God.
A Catholic University, and one in the Benedictine Tradition, as well, ought to be “fully integrated in their faith”. Our model is the resurrected body Jesus Christ sports during the season of Easter. We are called to be people who believe in angels that defeat demons. We are called to be people who heal others by invoking the transphysics of God who is “that which is greater than that which can be thought.”
Being a Christian is something that should be bold, daring and strong. Similarly it is something that should be kind, compassionate and loving. Christians should have a balance between worship and service as much as they are a balance between spiritual and physical: one cannot be complete without the other. “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:17.
The Apocryphal Acts of St. Peter recounts a story where Peter is fleeing Rome at the threat of being crucified. On his way out of Rome he encounters Jesus going the other way back into Rome. When they stop, Peter asks Jesus, “Where are you going?” Jesus replies, “I am going to Rome, to be Crucified again.” Struck and cut to the heart, Peter returns to Rome to work for Christ and eventually be crucified upside down.
Though a legend, this story called “Quo Vadis” is instructive to what it means to be a Christian at all levels, from Popes to Bishops, from Bishops to Priests, from Priests to Deacons, from Deacons to Lay people, from Lay people to the world, we are all called to die to self so that we can be God for others.
What are you called to be resurrected to? What new life are you supposed to live? How does worshiping the Living God move you so that you change who you are for others? Go! Do it! Be it! Love it. Love God by loving others.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div. is the Director of University Ministry at Benedictine University. You can comment on this article at firstname.lastname@example.org and can listen to his weekly podcasts at http://MySpiritualAdvisor.com