Comfort the Afflicted … and Afflict the Comfortable

25 May


Life can be so much fun — and we can become so comfortable where we are in our spiritual growth and maturity. Read on.

WE’VE ALL HEARD – many times, I’m sure – that old classic saying, “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Pope Francis has proposed a similar sentiment to the entire Church. In a homily May 16, he spoke of the need to proclaim openly the salvation won by Jesus. In doing so, he said, “If we annoy people, blessed be the Lord” (cf. National Catholic Register Blog, 05-17-13).

He also pointed to a condition in the Church which has been a concern for some time:

“There are those who are well-mannered, who do everything well, but are unable to bring people to the Church through proclamation and apostolic zeal.”

He also said that apostolic zeal “implies an element of madness.”

St. Paul was a severe irritant to many people – some may have thought him mad. But we all know that St. Paul was an apostle so on fire with passion for the Lord that he preached effectively the salvation won through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In another Register blog (05-15-13), Matthew Warner states that if Catholics believe what they say they believe, why are they not different from the rest of society?

My own take is simply this: We are happy with who we are. We are active in our parishes, following diocesan and parish policies and priorities. We are content, and yes, too comfortable, with “where we are.” Sometimes we are tempted to think how lucky God is to have us on his side.

This comfort zone has to be challenged. As Catholics, we need to rediscover the zeal and fervor of the apostolic Church. In modern times, the challenges to faith, freedom of conscience and the social primacy of family are very real.

  • We have to stop coddling one another.
  • We have to take seriously what John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have urged upon us, namely, total conversion to Jesus Christ.
  • About 40 years ago, a well-known priest observed that Catholics have been “sacramentalized” but not evangelized.
  • Consider our attitude we have in receiving the sacraments: We are grateful for the grace and comfort of God’s mercy – but somehow we miss, or choose to ignore, the Lord’s urgent missionary and evangelistic call to be an effective antidote to the secular, atheistic and socialist trends finding root in our nation and world.

We must rediscover the meaning and power of the Eucharist and the Word of God. For us, God’s Word is always alive and totally relevant – and his grace is more than sufficient.

We can begin by making the Year of Faith more than business as usual. Bishops and priests, and all involved in spiritual formation, must help lay people gain a sense of responsibility for both living and sharing their faith. And more, leadership must help the laity develop the confidence to do it.

In other words, it must become normal for Catholics to live their faith with zeal and to proclaim it courageously and charitably.


One Response to “Comfort the Afflicted … and Afflict the Comfortable”

  1. May 26, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Good–fire on the earth! Bert

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