Dear Parish Family,
The opening sentence of John's Gospel today does a good job of describing how God feels about us: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." But if you look at the sentence closely again, John says that those who believe might not perish and might have eternal life. He doesn't use the definitive verb will but the conditional verb might. That's because there is no guarantee that we will achieve eternal life in heaven. So what does it take to get to heaven and achieve eternal life? Great question. I'm not sure I know the answer, but I can put forward some ideas. If we go to church every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation and go to confession once or twice a year, is that enough? Well, we know that receiving Jesus' body and blood is both the source and summit of our relationship with Jesus Christ. And certainly going to confession absolves us of our sins, no matter how serious. It's a great start…and an essential ingredient to punching our ticket to heaven. But there's more to it than just a checklist. And I know that because of that sacrament called baptism. Through our baptism, we are called to be a light to the world. Striving to be a light to the world signifies a much more active participation on our part then sitting in the pew every Sunday. And for those of us who are cradle Catholics, we really didn't have a choice in our baptism. But then through confirmation we received additional graces and were filled with the Holy Spirit to go on our mission as a light to the world. And this happened just three weeks ago when Bishop Paul confirmed 133 young adults at St. Magdalen's. And it also happened this past Pentecost Sunday when14 adults were confirmed at the 10:30 am Mass.
We become a light to the world by becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. Through our baptism and confirmation, we have received the graces necessary to be disciples of Jesus Christ. A disciple is one who embraces and spreads the teachings of another. And so we are called to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ by following him. One way to follow Him is to share the gifts that God has given to us with others. Our gifts from God can be broken down into time, talent and treasure. We are called through our baptism to share these gifts and return them with an increase to the Lord. When we do this, we are being good stewards of God's gifts. We are all unique and we all have talents. So if you followed me so far, you might say: "Ok, I get it. I need to do more. I can't just be stagnant and hope to obtain salvation". What's next? Just looking at last week's bulletin, I saw steward opportunities for the Greeting Ministry, CCD assistance, the Lydias Ministry and the Gardening Ministry. Now if you're the cynic, you might say that they're just looking for more volunteers. But if you're someone looking to "Come and follow Him", then you might see this as an opportunity to share your time and talent in committing yourself to Christ and help be a light to the world.
My wife, Mary, is the head of the Stewardship Commission here at St. Magdalen's. Over the coming months, you will start to see more information being disseminated about the Steward Commission and its role at St. Magdalen's. One of its roles is quite simple….to help all of us to become disciples of Jesus Christ. We are planning to have a Stewardship Sunday this fall to give more people the opportunity to realize their time and talents so that we can all fulfill our baptismal promises. I started this letter with asking what it takes to get to heaven. Hopefully, I've provided some spiritual food for thought.