The last part of the Baptismal rite is called the Ephphatha which is the word that Jesus speaks to the deaf man and heals him. However, in this part of the Baptismal Rite, the priest says: May the Lord open your ears to hear his word and touch your lips to proclaim his faith to the praise and glory of God the Father.
This is our own commissioning to live the Gospel.
We have a mandate to live the Gospel and evangelize.
I would like you to consider the time we are living in light of this.
First, a little history. In 319 A.D. Constantine Christianized the Roman Empire and after that the whole concept of the Catholic Church as being universal began. From that point on Christianity spread throughout the empire in Europe from Jerusalem. About a millennium later it spread to the Americas as it continued through Africa and Asia and so Catholicism and later other forms of Christianity became virtually universal. There were fights and arguments such as the Arian heresy which described Jesus as fully human but not fully divine spread, but that was still part of a Christianity.
Even after the protestant reformation, we were talking about people who hated the Catholic Church but they were still Christians.
However, over the past centuries, especially since the enlightenment we have seen a growing spread of what is called post-Christianity. This is a time where people say that there is no need to live the Gospel anymore or believe in Jesus. So this is the time we are living now what many call the Post-Christian era.
The problem is Christianity is not a philosophy, it is a person Jesus Christ and it is an anthropology defining ourselves as human beings in light of the creation we understand through our relationship to Jesus Christ. Catholicism is the faith founded by Christ and we are rooted in that founding.
Our role is to build that relationship and share it with others. Why? For the same reason, our role as educated people is to teach people about the universe. We are teaching people about the truth whom we truly are.
The focus is that Jesus is leading us through this pilgrimage to the kingdom to our destiny as human beings. He wants us to teach that to all. There are others who choose to reject this and they are on their way to a destiny of self-exclusion from the kingdom.
What does this mean for us?
If what we believe is true then we can explain it in light of what we understand. Much of what we understand is true but there is more to it that we have not yet discovered.
What happens if we take our faith for granted and do not live our faith. What happens if we reject Christ and we start to walk down another path that we believe in but is not the truth that is Christ.
We end up in a place we do not want to be and so does our world because we remain silent because we did not live the truth.
Last week I talked about the issue of Afghanistan since that time there was a terrible scene you might have viewed. Putting this as generally as possible, a former United States Black Hawk Helicopter flew over Kabul with the body of someone who worked with the United States hanging from it. The message to the people of Kabul was simple, we are coming to kill you too. That scenario was not just bad, and shocking. It was demonic. That is what the demonic looks like, forget what you see in movies around Halloween.
It gets worse. What they will now do is they will plant seeds of hatred among the people of Kabul and all of Afghanistan to begin a campaign to get the people to turn on each other.
“Do you know what he said about you? Do you know what they did behind your back?” It is a military tactic that turns people angrily at each other in a community and they begin to turn each other in to in this case: The Taliban!!!
How do the people we believe we are as human beings do something so terrible? We may say that was the Taliban and we are not the Taliban but they are all human beings too. How does a human being do something so terrible to another human being and use that action to terrorize people throughout the city?
I challenge any atheist to answer that question, but we can answer that question easily as Christians. We humans have a natural inclination to commit evil that if we do not have something leading us away from it we will succumb to it as well and that evil has virtually no limits. We can find ourselves down the same destructive path of evil even though now we do not feel that is possible.
This is why living the Gospel is so important and our times do not call us to live a nice Gospel where we treat everyone like it is Christmas eve, but a Gospel which we live as if our being depends on it. It is not a faith of following rules but of embodying Christ. We treat everyone like their knowing the truth is essential to their survival. It is that there truly is evil in this world and God is calling us to be aware of it turn from it and at times fight it. The way we fight it most is by living the Gospel. That is the most powerful way to preach it, just living it. Living the gospel is not running around condemning everyone but treating others as creations of God.
Let us start point fingers at the problems in our society and start naming them. You want to blame the Taliban, the universities, the politicians, and the political parties feel free but the saints would say that the greatest source of evil is Catholics not living their faith. They would tell you to turn to Christ more and live the Gospel in prayer and maybe even fasting. After all, Jesus said that was the greatest tool against evil.
When we decide that we are living in the post-Christian era, we decide that we are gods now after all we are all university educated and we know the difference between an atomic particle and atomizer. We know the difference between Karl Marx and Eugene Debs, we know the difference between Charles DeGaul and Pol Pot.
However, we do not understand the truth about goodness and evil.
We are not just called to be on a journey to eternal life, we are called to be witnesses to that journey where we live the faith as those witnesses.
When you come to receive the Eucharist consider that and think for yourself are you ready to stand against any attitude that says we are gods now by treating others as Christ called you to treat them that they may understand the Anthropological truth then come forward and make your amen mean something powerful. Because when that Baptismal rite happened, that is the commissioning you received.