What is The Story?
Catholicism is more than doctrines and traditions. It is more than moral questions and devotions. Catholicism presents the world with a unique and particular way of viewing reality, a particular way of reading all of history.
The way we look at the world is through God’s interaction with creation and humanity in particular. We have to know this overarching story if we are going to understand anything else about Catholicism: doctrines, sacraments, morality, prayer, liturgy, or leadership. The foundation that everything is built upon is the dramatic action between God and mankind.
The first stage in this story is creation. The world was created by God and flows from a Father’s love for His children. His love overflows into all of creation. We instinctively see this in the beauty of the world and the innocence of a newborn child. The world is created very good by a loving Father.
However, creation is broken. Humanity believed the devil, the seducer before trusting the loving Father. We see this brokenness in the world: violence, corruption, hatred, deceit and more. Evil enters the world and is apparent in so many ways. This brokenness doesn’t just exist “out there” it is also part of our story as well. We recognize our own sinfulness. If we are honest with ourselves, we have a tendency to be selfish, angry, prideful, and any other sin you can name. Unfortunately, there are no amount of self-help books that can fix us. The Old Testament highlights the pain of sin and brokenness. Although God keeps calling His people to Himself through covenants and prophets, His people continue to rebel… we continue to rebel.
In the midst of sin and brokenness, God initiates a rescue mission through His own beloved Son. The word becomes flesh and dwells among us in Jesus Christ. This is God’s response to our sin. Jesus takes our sin upon Himself on the cross. He accepts betrayal, abandonment, physical torture, and political injustice to redeem a broken race. His victory over the powers of darkness are shown in the resurrection from the dead.
From the moment Jesus ascended into heaven, He sends His followers out into the world to invite the whole world into this story. Through the Sacraments, catechesis, and works of mercy the Church invites the world into God’s rescue mission for humanity. There have been incredible heroes who have embodied these ideals; they are the saints.
This is where our parishes are today. They exist to invite the entire world into the rescue mission of Jesus Christ. They exist because we know the world and its people are broken, yet we know that Jesus Christ has redeemed the world. They exist to gather His children into His flock.
As parishioners, we should see ourselves in this story as well. We have our place in God’s plan of salvation for a fallen world. Our parishes are places where this rescue mission of Jesus Christ encounters individuals and families.
We already know the end of this story. Jesus Christ will come at the end of time to definitively rule over His followers. We prepare for this conclusion. We prepare ourselves, our friends, and our loved ones for the definitive rule of Jesus Christ. When this will happen… who knows? Yet we look forward in anticipation to His glorious reign.
May we all understand that we are part of a larger story! We were created by a loving Father, yet we are fallen and sinful. We have been rescued by Jesus Christ, our savior. His work continues through the Church, including locally in our parishes. Ultimately we look forward to the glorious reign of Jesus Christ for the end of the ages.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Sean Wilson