Some magazines coined a phrase to describe American Catholics. They called us cafeteria Catholics. By that they meant that many American Catholics pick and choose what dogmas to believe and what areas of morality to practice or to ignore. Those articles were offensive mainly because they contained a lot of truth, especially when they spoke about morality. People would say, “I’m a good Catholic, but I don’t believe in marriage. Or, “I’m a good Catholic but I am pro-abortion”.
Sadly, there are many people who want to simplify our belief system and our morality to make it less demanding and more in conformity with a largely pagan world. For example, many people have reduced the necessity to receive the Eucharist and end up putting the Eucharist on the same plane as a reminder of Jesus’ action, such as Holy Water. No the Eucharist is not a reminder of Jesus. It is Jesus. But this takes a leap of faith, a leap of trusting in the Word of God. Or on the morality side, many couples have decided that marriage comes after living together, not before living together. And I can assure you, they do not want to hear the statistics showing the elevated percentage of failed marriages for those who cohabitate or that sex outside of marriage is a sin. Morality also demands an increase of faith, faith that living as a Christian will give the rewards of Christianity. “But all of this is so hard, father, can’t we just tone down our faith, and our morality?”
There is nothing new to this complaint. We just heard the disciples voicing it to Jesus. People were leaving because they did not want to take the leap of faith and accept the Eucharist. Jesus’ response was simple: are you going to leave too?
My brother, my sister, truth has nothing to do with numbers. Truth has nothing to do with surveys. Truth is from Jesus Christ alone.
Thank God, many of our young adults and Teens have rejected the concept of truth by numbers, and are fighting against the temptation to be cafeteria Catholics. Empowered by Pope John Paul II and of course by his holiness Pope Benedict XVI, these people are demanding a following of Christ that some would call radical, but that in reality is merely adhering to the Truth. Their faith is Eucharistic centered. They are adamantly pro-life. And they are finding meaning in the Lord.
So, if following Jesus means that we are radicals, then let’s be radicals. We just heard St. Peter made his greatest profession of faith at the conclusion of today’s Gospel. When confronted with the possibility of leaving Christ, he proclaimed, Lord, to whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.
Of course there are times that it is difficult to follow Christ! Following Christ means taking up the cross. It means denying ourselves the passing joys of immorality for the eternal joy of living in His Presence forever. Following Christ means being different than most of society. Following Christ means being, pro- Eucharist, pro-bishops, pro-priests, pro-Church, pro-chastity, pro-generosity, pro-forgiveness, pro-life, etc.
Back in 1925, the great English poet, T. S. Eliot , wrote about the people of his time who lived without God. He called his poem, The Hollow Men. That is what life is without the Lord, hollow. We don’t have to go back to 1925 for examples of hollow existence, there are around us a lot of examples, however, as Catholics we are not hollow, we have the Lord, he gives us all we need. I really love the way Matt Maher, a Canadian songwriter, phrased this reality in a poem set to music a few years ago:
I’ve been looking for a reason,
I’ve been longing for a purpose,
I’m losing all my meaning
I’m running out of excuses
Lord, it’s hard to know you
I don’t always see your plan
But holiness is calling me,
So take me as I am
You are my everything, you are the song I sing
I’ll do anything for you
Teach me how to pray, to live a life of Grace
I’ll go anywhere with you,
Jesus, be my everything.
So, Lord, where can we go? You alone have the Words of Eternal Life, says St. Peter, and we have come to know, to believe, and to experience the Presence of God ■
1. Sunday 23rd August, 2009, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Joshua 24:1-2, 15-18. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord—Ps 33(34):2-3, 16-23. Ephesians 5:21-32. John 6:60-69. [St Rose of Lima].
2. Thomas Stearns Eliot, OM (1888–1965), was a poet, playwright, and literary critic. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948.