Welcome, regular ticket holders! Our season ticket holders will be back a couple of months from now. And f0r us, holdovers and leftovers, I have a question: Why do we go to Church? Before we respond to that, let us take a look at some of the excuses of people who do not go to Church and give some of our comments.

I stay away from the Church because I have children. So does Jesus. So do most of us. And so do I. In fact, I have more than 260 children here in School. I stay away from the Church because the church always wants money. So do Acme and Shoprite. So do Boscov’s and Macy’s. I stay away from the Church because it is cold. Not at St. Charles, where it is warm and friendly inside. I stay away from the Church because I am poor. There is no admission charge here and the pastor is a Dollar Store guy and is also a poor preacher. I stay away from the Church because I am rich. Now, we’ll take care of that. And I stay away from the Church because I have plenty of time to go later. Are you sure?

Today’s Feast of the Baptism of our Lord reminds us of our own baptism and our being called to faith. I would venture to say that most of you are here because you have already used all the excuses that I mentioned and that there is still something inside of you telling you to be closer to God. That is why you are here.

You are here because you have listened to Jesus, the beloved Son of the Father. You are here because you want to be near Jesus. You are here because you love our Lord.

Our being present here proves that we continue the tradition handed on to us by the apostles and our fathers in faith. Our being present here means that we are following what the Lord has commanded: to do things in his memory because the blood that flowed on Calvary and the body that was offered on Good Friday are for me and for you. Our being present here signifies the fact that we are breaking the same bread and drinking from the same cup that have been shared and broken for more than two thousand years without interruption.

This is the time to feel good about being a Catholic, to feel gratified about who and what we are, to feel proud, contented and satisfied in being part of a church that is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

And, there is a need to share that faith. The best way to do that is by example. That was the mantra of the first century Christians. They were known by their love to each other. It is no wonder that they could easily spot a Christian then. Because of their love, they were marching to their death, ready to be burned as torches in the Coliseum. But they were happy, they were joyful, they were showing their teeth. They were smiling.

People would learn about our God and our faith through us. We do not need to figure out the Trinity. It will always be a mystery. We do not need to know how the Vatican or how the Church works, which can be another mystery. We do not need to memorize the Bible. We only need to reflect God to people we meet. We only need to be Christian to each other. We only need to be Jesus to each one.

As we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, do remember that we became part of this Church through our baptism and because of our baptism we should make this Church not apart from us, but an essential part of us.

11 January 2009

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