As we have been reminded these past several weeks, our mission as a parish is “to live and share Christ’s call to holiness.” We have five core values that describe who we are and who we aspire to be, in light of that mission.
This week, we focus on our fourth core value as a parish: “We believe that we must form our hearts and minds with the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, and that we are called to share our faith in Christ with others.”
It is important that our life of prayer be built on a clear understanding of our faith, but our intellectual understanding will be sterile if it does not lead to a deeper love of God and desire to bring others to know him more deeply.
Our Restlessness for God
St Augustine famously said that our hearts are restless until they rest in God. In our Old Testament reading today, Job expresses this restlessness, saying, “The night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.” [Job 7: 4] It is an age-old restlessness that continues in our day. We know, like St Augustine, that only God can satisfy. At St Mark’s we offer many opportunities to form our hearts and minds in what is Good, True and Beautiful. There is our family faith formation program, Ignite, our half day retreats for young couples, Bible Study, Emmaus, our First Friday devotion, and the list goes on and on. Yet isn’t it interesting that the more we seek God through these things, the more our restlessness grows? We long for more!
Our Lord created us with this insistent longing for him. St Augustine explained that “God thirsts that we thirst for him.” When we read the lives of the saints we quickly see that all of them hungered and thirsted for God. For some, their desire to know God completely was torment. This was never more true than in the life of our Mother Mary. Why did God ask her to live for so many years after the death and resurrection of her Son? One reason must have been to bring to even greater heights her capacity for love. She was a part of the Church in its infancy, living with the Apostle John and receiving Christ in the Eucharist, just as you and I do. She must have received him longing for the great reunion she would have with him one day in heaven. It should be the same for us – the more we receive the more we long to be filled!
All Things to All People
My brothers and sisters, we are a parish that longs for more and wants all those entrusted to our care to share our longing! The heart of St Paul in our second reading must be our heart. He speaks about his desire “to win over as many as possible” to Jesus. [1 Cor 9: 19] To do this, he is willing to “become all things to all, to save at least some.” He is willing to experience the death that comes with loving – to become weak and to make himself a slave for the sake of souls – to do whatever it takes.
The interesting thing is that Paul doesn’t seem to think this is something extraordinary. Rather, he sees this as an “obligation” he has to God. Elsewhere he explains why: “The love of Christ impels us.” [2 Cor 5: 14] My brothers and sisters, is our obligation any different? Doesn’t the love of Christ impel us to live out our fourth core value, forming our hearts and minds so that we can share our faith in Christ with others?
In our Gospel today we see the “whole town” gathered at the doorstep of Simon’s mother, hungering and thirsting for the love of Jesus. [See Mk 1: 33] With eyes of faith, we too can see our whole town – our neighbors and friends – gathered at the doors of St Mark’s, waiting for someone to show them the love of Christ. In just a little over a week we will begin the season of Lent once again. Let’s ask for the grace to turn our restless hearts toward God with a desire to know him more perfectly and to bring as many as possible to know him as well.