Mother Teresa is now St. Teresa of Calcutta—but she will remain our Mother Teresa who became an inspiration for millions. She was like Jesus, she lived for others. She was counter-cultural.
She struggled with darkness of soul. She rarely felt the joy of the presence of God. Yet, she persevered.
Mother Teresa had the moral conviction and strength to do what Jesus asked her to do.
The thought of such sanctity, strength and courage has led me to think long and hard about my own faith.
I’m afraid I’ve become what Bishop Barron calls a “Beige Catholic”—or a “Comfortable Catholic,” as someone else suggested.
Jesus called it “luke warm” faith.
In other words, my tendency is to seek the comfort of fellow believers, to cozy up to the Jesus of mercy and, all too often, to turn away from his demand that I take up my cross and follow him.
Jesus challenged the pride and false faith of the Pharisees. He embraced the poor, the neglected and abused in society. Jesus became one with those who suffer and with the oppressed who were denied justice.
He embraced the Cross for our salvation.
And yet, I choose to rest comfortably here, in the bosom of our wonderful parish, to the love and faith fill every cell of my being.
And well I should. A good parish is a wonderful place to be.
Yet, at eighty-two yeas of age, nagging questions give me no rest:
- Have I done all I can do to bring the light of Christ into my world?
- Isn’t this messy world now someone else’s problem?
- Do I ignore my Christian duty because I don’t want to pay the cost of true discipleship?
And, how do I respond as society drifts farther from the Gospel?
- I sit and fume over same-sex “marriages” and bathrooms.
- When it comes to cohabitation, even among Christians, I manage a disapproving frown.
- I am angry about politicians who promise even more discord and desperation in our nation.
- I bemoan the exodus of so many Catholics—young and old—from the Church our Lord Jesus founded.
I pray, write and preach. But what do I DO about it?
Perhaps I shrink at the demand of Jesus to love no one and nothing more than I must love him—and to love others with the same love he gives me. Perhaps I’m not willing to pay the price of such a commitment—it’s much safer just doing what I’m doing.
Father Charles P0pe, Archdiocese of Washington, has said that in the first three centuries, there were thirty-three popes, thirty were martyred and two died in exile. They gave their lives.
In a reflection on Scripture, America magazine reminds me that Jesus is asking for my life. He wants me to take up the cross of true faith, the saving message of the Gospel and accept the light of the Holy Spirit. He begs me to give myself entirely to his mission of salvation of all people.
But I can’t do this alone. Nor can any one of us.
Together we must bleach the beige out of our Catholicism. We must cast aside our comfy blankets. Authentic Catholicism must come even more alive in us if others are to believe.
With apostolic zeal we must eagerly take up the cross and the mission that Jesus has given us.
Many Catholics believe that we will face increased persecution.
The cost of true discipleship may well become more evident. But the cost pales in the face of God’s love for us. No cost is too much if we, as did Mother Teresa, love him and everyone for whom he died.
Mother Teresa, pray for us.