Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Come and See

Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Nov 30)

In St. John's Gospel, Andrew and another disciple of John the Baptist heard the Baptist point out Jesus as "the Lamb of God." With that, they started following after Jesus. When he notices them, Jesus asks him what he wants. Andrew enigmatically asks, "Teacher, where are you staying?" The followed John because he prophesied about Jesus, and now having seen the prophesied one they begin to follow him. It is as if Andrew and the other disciple of the Baptist want to follow Jesus to the source. It is possible that the disciples were wondering if Jesus had a place to stay - but that seems unlikely. More likely, they themselves were looking for a spiritual place to stay, for something upon which they could hang their hats, for a central organizing theme for their lives. Jesus does not give some sort of pat answer, "Oh, I'm staying on Maple Street," or "Me and my gang are at the Holiday Inn." Rather, he invites them to a new experience: "Come and see."

Christianity, ultimately, is not meant to and cannot be a pat answer to life's questions. A young man in my parish died last Saturday night while asleep in his bed. He was a good kid. Toxicology revealed nothing foreign in his system. He had just run the Marine Corps Marathon. There was no indicator that the 15-year old boy had an undetected heart defect. He simply died unexpectedly. And in response to his family's anguish, Christianity should not attempt to say, "Now there, there. It's alright. See, Carl's in heaven now. It's OK." Such an "answer" (though perhaps factually accurate) is a dull platitude that rightly angers people. If God is in his heaven and the world is good and easy to understand, then why did Carl die.

Christianity's answer is different. Christ didn't die so that we won't have to. Christ died with us. Christ said, "Come and see," (Jn 1:39). If we have the faith to go with Him into whatever darken paths He leads, we will see and encounter the goodness of God, a goodness that transcends silly pat answers given by people who feel awkward amidst suffering.

Having encountered this Man who could be the center of their lives, the disciples of the Baptist begin to feel a difference immediately. We too, as we follow Christ, begin to experience a difference in our life. Things change. Firstly, we change - our sins alarm us more, then peace wells up as we see the sins begin to fall away, brushed off us by the hand of a gentle and loving Older Brother. Slowly, he prepares us to meet His Father, and to make His Father our own. As this encounter with Christ progresses, we become like Andrew who, "found his brother Simon and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah,'... He brought him to Jesus," (Jn 1:41-42). The Christ-likening change in us draws others to us, and thence to Christ himself. In word and deed our witness becomes credible, and like St. Andrew, we can bring our brothers and sisters to know the same loving God.

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