The most important objects to the average human being is our cell phone and its respective charger. I don’t go anywhere without these two things. Smart Phones provide us with our bank accounts, maps, google, and all the important necessities to move with efficiency through our very noisy and bombarded lives. One must always carry a charger, so once 20% hits on the battery life, you can relieve yourself of stress, knowing your smart phone won’t die on you. God forbid the day comes.
Smart Phones makes us connected to the world and to each other in ways we would never have imaged fifty years ago. It’s what makes us efficient, knowledgeable, and in a sense, allows us to have a certain status in society. Yet is this enough?
We live in an age where life is about processing information too fast to analysis. It’s about charging phones, being connected with status updates, liking pictures in order to feel that we are wanted. We have begun creating these altars of artificial importance: altars of prestige, success, and wealth. After all, we only put out on social media the things we wish people to see about us. It’s our way of being connected. But is this the route to greatness?
What is the secret of greatness? This is the intriguing conversation among Jesus’ closest friends in today’s Gospel. Throughout Mark’s account Jesus gives us a hint. After a series of miracles, Jesus gets in a boat, Jesus goes away to a mountain to commune with His Father. Greatness is found in our most intimate relationship with God. This relationship finds its pulse at every moment of our existence, keeping God before our eyes and heart. This greatness reaches its peak each Sunday when we come to Mass and are nourished and transformed by the sacraments.
God does not need us. God wants us! God does not need us to be connected to him like a charger to it’s iPhone. God wants us to be grafted in him. Meaning, his life becomes our life! God wishes to be grafted in us so that we have faith to move mountains and faith that allows us to cry in profound prayer to the Father at the moment of death. Being grafted to God gives our faith meaningful depth in our short human existence.
God who wishes to be grafted in us tells us that our relationship with him is inseparable from our relationship with each other. To have his life etched into our life, to live for him, to be his image in the world, we must be the last of all and the servant of all. Let me say that again … the last of all and the servant of all. Not the last of few in your circle of friends and the servant of a particular group in society. Every person you meet is another Christ. If you wish for deep lasting joy, if you wish to find life’s meaning, if you wish to know what you were created for, serve the Christ in ever single person you meet. Welcome them and attend to them for this is what the Letter of James exhorts us to do — to be gentle, peaceable, full of mercy and good fruits. And be child-like before God for that is the only way to have access into the kingdom. For me, children are brutally honest, often times speaking without filters. Perhaps that should be us …. Sitting, standing, kneeling in absolute transparent honesty before God.
All of this does not find its context as we sit at home and make up religion and the list of nice charitable things we can offer the world. Our relationship with God and each other is fully and joyfully lived in the Church. In the next few days, the whole nation will be focused on us for the visible sign of our unity, the successor of Peter, the microphone of God, the one whom God promised to build his Church ….. is coming! Papa is coming!! And when the Pope speaks, everyone, regardless of their religious affiliation, seems to listen these days.
He will come to strengthen us, to enliven the Holy Spirit in us. He will come to speak the Truth of the Gospel and challenge us to hot topic issues on our vocation to care for the environment, on the beauty, majesty, and nobility of marriage. He will speak on how we reach those in the peripheries of our communities: those who live in material and spiritual poverty, those who have been estranged because they are our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. He will exhort us on what it truly means to be a merciful Church, a topic which many mainstream Catholic commentators admit we have not spoken enough about.
He will remind us of the truth of families as being the first Church for all children and that catechists are aides to parents in teaching the faith. His platform will not only be US soil, but it will be our nation’s highest leadership at the joint session of Congress and the globe’s world leaders at the United Nations. He will speak to the leadership of the Church on how we embrace those in divorced families and single parents. This is truly an exciting time to be Catholic. So pay attention! God wants you, God reminds you that only in serving others do we meet him. The Pope, papa, is coming on U.S. Soil to strengthen us for this very reality!