|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.
Sheep or Goats
Joe Paprocky, a Catholic writer, once asked: “If you want to introduce somebody to a sport and you want them to love the sport like you love it, you do not hand them the rule book; saying ‘Here’s the game of basketball!’” You need to have them experience the game by going to watch the game and hopefully then engage them in playing the game. Because it is not just about watching but actually playing. Then you would instruct them in knowing the rules.
The rules come in only when we want to actually play and learn the art of the sport itself. Sometimes in Christianity, and in particularly Catholicism, we can focus on the rule book! Here is what it is to be a Catholic. “You do this; you do that.” We are surprised that they lose interest! We are surprised that they do not fall in love like we did. We also might ask, “Do we really love Christ?” Or do we tend to see Christianity as a spectator sport. When we are a spectator, we definitely have a different view of the game. When we play the game and watch the game, we tend to understand the game a lot more and we understand the rules, of course.
If we are serious about having people love Christ the way we ought to love Christ then we ought to show them the game. We ought to demonstrate the game in action. Now obviously one way we can do this is to invite them to liturgy but that is not the full game. No. Mass is the spirit rally! Mass is getting all fired up for the game. The game is out there in the world. The one hour we spend in here is the pep rally for the other 167 hours that we live outside. If we could do a better job in the 167 hours then this would be much more fulfilling.
In today’s feast of Christ the King of the Universe, Jesus calls us to be part of that kingdom by doing as he did. It is the real game of life. He said feed the hungry. He said give drink to the thirsty. Those who are naked, clothe them. Those who are sick in hospital, go visit them. Those who are in prison, tend to them. Those who are homeless, care for them.
We have to ask ourselves whether we are sheep or goats; there is a simple way to find out which we are and that is by what we do. We do not play the game in here.
We play the game out there. We are at a pep rally right now and our role is to go out and live it; to be as kind as possible to all we meet; to be as gentle as possible to all we come in contact with and to genuinely reach out to those who are desperately in need. To care for each other because in the end that is the game of life.