This past weekend, a seminarian that I have known since I was in junior high was ordained a priest, and celebrated his first mass at our home parish on Sunday. It was a beautiful day, not just for Fr. Dan, but for our entire parish; it marked the 7th consecutive ordination of a priest from my parish in 7 years. Wow!!
Fr. Dan has always been a man of incredible wisdom, and has always had great skill to deliver his message in a relatable manner to the audience, so I was looking forward to what his first homily would discuss. In the Easter season, Catholics are re-familiarized with the story of Peter denying Christ three times before his crucifixion. But Fr. Dan also brought up the story of when St. Peter proclaims to Jesus that he believes He is the Christ. This homily, and this story, offers such an important question to ask oneself and others: Who do you say He is?
Maybe we aren’t flat out denying Christ when asked about our faith or going about our lives, but are we fully receiving Him and the Gifts we are given? As we flow through different seasons of life, this can be hard to do. Especially in the Millennial and Gen Z populations of society where more people are are considering themselves atheist, how do we ignite the fires of faith in the hearts of others? Do we shy away from living out Christ’s calling for us, or do we choose faith over fear?
I think I always come back to the simplest mission that Christ asks of all of His brothers and sisters: we are called to Love. I don’t think this necessarily means that Christians should be quoting from the Bible left and right, or pressuring an invite to church on Sunday (both insightful methods of evangelization to some and in some situations), but rather, implementing that ever-present Love of the Trinity in our thoughts, words, and actions. Yes, Jesus and His Disciples traveled countless miles spreading the Word of God, but they also always lived out the Word of God.
As people of faith, we are always going to have moments when we our beliefs are questioned by others, and maybe even ourselves– in moments of triumph, failure, sickness, health, scandal, celebration. St. Peter steadfastly reminds us the answer to this question: we are called to Love, because He is the Christ.