July 11, 2018
In the Gospel of John, when John the Baptist saw Jesus walking by, he urged two of his disciples to follow him. “There is the Lamb of God,” he said. “Follow him.” Those two disciples were following John for a reason. John spoke to their hearts. Their hearts yearned for something greater in their lives, something that gave them hope, something that made their lives meaningful. John promised that that something was actually someone, one who was coming. When he came, John pointed him out. His work was done.
Some months ago, I attended a conference that studied issues of the upcoming Synod on Youth, Vocations, and Discernment. One of the sessions treated the issue of the “nones,” those persons who don’t associate with any religion. Sadly, a great number of them are baptized Catholics. We’ve known about this reality for some time. Unfortunately, new statistics show us that the average age of those disassociating from the Church is thirteen! That’s not the early age, but the average age. If this isn’t a wake up call for the Church, them we might as well roll over into our graves! It certainly woke me up.
This is a wake up call not only to talk about the new Evangelization – new methods, new zeal, new language – but begin living it! It begins, it continues, and it ends with an encounter with Jesus Christ. Oscar Cantu is challenged to encounter Jesus Christ every day, to allow my life to be challenged and transformed by him. One of the fruits of this encounter is mission, joyful mission.
As I arrive in San Jose, I look forward to continuing the mission of the Church in this beautiful part of the world that goes by the name of a man whose own life was transformed by his encounter with a young virgin and the Son she bore. As Jesus invited those first two disciples on a journey, “Come and see,” he told them, he invites you and me to follow him on a journey of discovery, of wonder, of faith, paved by steps of hope and love. I look forward to getting to know you and working with you.
I must confess that at the moment my heart is in Las Cruces, in southern New Mexico. I didn’t only fall in love with the breathtaking landscape, the spicy food – the people have stolen my heart. They loved me as only siblings can love a brother. I’m grateful to them for their healing, strength inducing love. And so my heart remains with them.
But I need not despair. The Lord says, “I will give you a new heart and sprinkle clean water upon you.” The Lord will give me a new heart for a new corner of his vineyard.
San Jose, pray for us!