As I was looking at the glee on Gia's face when I said yes to something (I can't even recall what now), I wondered if perhaps this wasn't a lesson in faith also, especially for us as Catholics. So often all we hear about Catholics is what we do NOT believe, what we do NOT support. I can see why people begin to think of the church as a big old bully waving a ruler around. If that was the Church I had encountered when I was searching for home, I certainly wouldn't have jumped in . . . or dipped my toe in the water!
It's also easy to understand why as a Church we feel the need to explain what we do not support. It seems the catapults are hurling those fireballs at us at record pace, and we've got to duck, cover, and put up our shields. The trouble is that it puts us in a defensive posture, when really we should be waving our hands and getting up on our pedestals megaphone in hand yelling, "You've got it all wrong!" We have to stop fearing those fireballs and lift our faces up to proclaim victory, the victory of Christ.
What is it that we DO believe? Why do we take the assaults the world throws our way and never back down in surrender? It's not because we have a great list of "thou shalt nots," after all, is it? What is it that we are saying "yes" to that makes the "no" seem insignificant? Who are we saying yes to that is so great that we stay put even in the midst of a seemingly losing battle?
Scripture gives us some great answers as to what it is that we are saying yes to. We say yes to
- abundant life (John 10:10),
- a Light that darkness cannot overcome (John 1:5),
- hope which does not disappoint (Romans 5:5),
- the love of God no power of this world can take away (Romans 9:38-39),
- hope of a time when all suffering will be wiped away (Revelation 21:1-5).
We say yes to the promise of a life with Jesus. We say yes to healing, to eternal life, to a peace nothing in this world can bring us, to strength in suffering that is not born of ourselves, we say yes to having the power of God dwell within us, we say yes to sacrificial love, we say yes to admitting we fail continuously, we say yes to rising from the ashes of many-an-epic faceplant with the mercy and grace of God. We say yes to so much more.
Jesus has some HARD teachings, that is for certain. You can't take the good and leave the hard behind as some would try. The world needs to hear our YES first though. The hard teachings cannot come first. The hard teachings are meaningless without that first yes, without our continual yes to grace, to mercy, to the love of Christ. If we are not awash in that light, all we see is the darkness of a no, not the freedom of a loving Savior keeping us from harm because of His great love. The world needs to hear what we do believe of the person of Jesus Christ before they will ever be open to the what of following Christ.
The world needs to hear why we stand behind what seems an outmoded set of principles. They need to know we don't worship a set of principles at all, but a real, living person whom we love and who loves us. They need to know that what Jesus promises, what Jesus has done and continues to do, makes it worth battling out the hard teachings for our years in this world. We have to lead the world to experience the love and mercy of Christ, so they can hear His loving "yes" to them.
This Easter, let's be bold about sharing what we DO believe, who we DO love. As I've said before, let's reclaim the conversation and frame it as a labor of love and mercy, the divine Love and Mercy of Jesus. It becomes an entirely different story when we start with an unexpected "YES."
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