I was having a conversation a few days ago with a friend and the subject of "religion" came up. While I admitted that yes, I am Catholic, I also added that just because I say that does not mean that I feel that being Catholic puts me on a higher pedestal than anyone else. I know the Catholic Church has suffered a huge black eye over the past decades...ok, probably hundreds of years, am I right? I know that if Jesus were here right now, he would take to task what the popes over time have done with His original mission; that is, to bring souls closer to God. Instead of simplistic teaching, the Church, as well as all of the other churches that followed, have created a series of "rules and regulations" that have nothing to do with the original message of Jesus: namely, bringing others closer to His Father. Instead it has driven a wedge between people across the globe, it has drawn a line in the sand that has nothing to do with why Jesus came here in the first place! It has brought nothing but pain and sorrow, which began at the time of His Passion and death.
Consider: when Jesus first began His ministry, His call was to "Come, follow Me!" "Follow Me!" It's meaning was as He said it, "give up all that you have and...follow Me!" Give up material goods, yes, give up that extra coat, that extra portion of food to someone who needs it, give up greed, give up the idea that you are somehow "better than" someone else and follow what He does! See how HE lived! When asked, "how do I get to heaven?" His response was to follow the Ten Commandments. Then, He simplified even that by saying, "Love God as you love yourself, and love your neighbor as much as you love God!" So easy...and so hard! Loving yourself...we see that all the time in the news, am I right? Such vanity! Greed...power and control that national leaders have for themselves and over their people. But loving yourself actually means that we see ourselves as being children of God, we don't wish ill of ourselves...and so, we should not wish ill on others, either. Whatever creed, color, nationality, gender...we must love all equally, no strings attached! Then by doing so, you will have that peace you crave for...love will spread over the land!
Jesus followed up his parables by performing His miracles, by showing us through example of how we are to love one another: in His day, it was "Jew vs Samaritan"... He showed how to love them all equally, even "giving up your very life if you have to for them! Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend!" He taught how the humble shall be exalted while the exalted will be humbled. He showed again by example that we must all be like little children, saying the meek shall inherit the earth and more.
Looking about today's sad, sorry world, I see nothing but greed, vanity and hate, yes, but I also see acts of love. What we need to do is to focus more on creating more acts of love. It is a fact that love wins out over hate. It is NOT about how I am Catholic...I am NO better than any of you! It is not about how much we can splinter religion until it is nothing like what Jesus foresaw while He was on Earth. Rather, it IS all about spirituality-getting closer to God by treating others with kindness and compassion. I can quote all the Scripture I want to, but if I am not DOING what I say, how is that being like Jesus? It is all about simplicity-seeing to it that others have what they need, even if it's at my own expense. It is about how we can BE Jesus for each other. I am sure that with each malicious act performed here on Earth, God is slapping Himself upside His head, thinking, "is this what it as all come to, then? Was my dying on the Cross all in vain?" Lent is just a few days away. Let us prove by word and deed that it was not!