|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
I have two friends who follow college football teams fanatically, each one for a different team: University of California, Berkeley and University of Notre Dame, Indiana. These guys are serious fans! When the game is on, they are wearing everything in team colors, even if they are not at the game itself. Somehow they think everybody is watching them through the television!
But there is a difference between them. One of them is an alumnus of his university; the other is not. My friend in Berkeley, he follows Cal, but he is not an alumnus. Don’t get me wrong. He is a committed fan, wears all the stuff, and goes to as many games as he can. But my University of Notre Dame friend, he is an alumnus of many years, and he wears the gear all the time, whether there is a game on or not. Everyone knows he is from Notre Dame, and he is proud of it.
There is a difference between fans and alumni. There are those who are fans and support the sports. Then there are alumni who support the sports with some extra attitude. Alumni are a different breed. The alumni are committed to the university, and the sport is just a part of it. The committed alumni are not only into some of the sports, but they are also committed to the institution and everything that the University represents.
Committed alumni have been profoundly touched by their experience at their University, and they are committed for life.
Saint Paul, in today’s second reading, says, “I am a slave for Christ.” He does not use the word “alumni,” or he doesn’t use the word “friend;” he uses the word “slave.” That is a pretty hard word. Paul is saying it as a badge of honor. He is proud to be a slave of Christ. In a sense, he is a completely committed alumni of Jesus Christ.
Next week there will be lots of alumni coming to the Christmas Day celebration, but there will also be lots of fans. They come, and they like Jesus. He is a nice guy. He did some good things. He was a great guy.
But the committed disciples, the committed alumni, are in for the long haul. It is up to us to make sure that Christ is known in the world. As Pope Francis says, “We must share the joy of the Gospel to the whole world.” And how he wants us to do this is primarily through our actions.
We, who have faith, are called to respond with action. Today, we recommit to Team Christ. We are going to be committed alumni. I know some of you may not feel totally committed, but today we recommit. May we reach out to get more committed alumni in these next few days, to see if we can convert some fans to real committed alumni of Christ. That is our role. It is not enough to come to Church and just do what we do. We have to be evangelists. We have to tell the world about the Christ, and we do that primarily through what we do and in what we say.