'The Great Family Of God's Children'
Recently, a student at Mater Dei High School in Evansville contacted the communications office with some questions for Bishop Charles C. Thompson. He requested the email interview for use as part of a report he was preparing on our Church and the struggles it faces.
One of his questions was, “What can the Church do to keep attendance up and gain new members?”
Bishop Thompson began his answer with the statement that inspired this column: “The Church must strive to be authentic, faithful, relevant, engaged and able to read the signs of the times.” Keep that in mind as you read the following, which is taken from one of Pope Francis’ early talks during his weekly general audience: “…the Church is the great family of God’s children.”
Let than sink in as you contemplate Bishop Thompson’s statement. The Church is not some nebulous “thing” that calls us to weekly Mass and the celebration of other Sacraments like Reconciliation, Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick.
No; we are the Church – you, me, our friends and families – even people we don’t much care for. With all our flaws and collective dysfunction, we comprise “the great family of God’s children.” In my opinion, our bishop’s statement to that high school student should serve as a challenge to us all – especially now, during the Easter Triduum.
Our Church reflects us … its members. As a result, I believe that each of us must hear and embrace that call – to be authentic, faithful, relevant, engaged and able to read the signs of the times.
Only you can answer how that call applies in your life. One very important element, for me, is to pray for the strength to live an example that is all of those things. I fail often; but when I do, I ask again for God’s mercy, forgiveness and help; and I remind myself that failure is not an option.
Today of all days (i.e. March 14, 2017, the publication date of this issue of The Message), we do well to embrace that concept. Jesus could have failed. He could have let the unimaginable weight of a sinful world – a weight he felt in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he died – lead him to say, “you know, I can’t do this. This is too much.”
Instead, he prayed, “Father … I would that this cup pass; but your will, not mine, be done.”
When you finish reading this column, sit in quiet reflection and ask yourself how you might become more authentic; more faithful; more relevant and engaged; and more able to read the signs of the times. I believe that if each of us makes his or her own progress in these areas, our Church will grow stronger because of the example we – the great family of God’s children – will set.