You’ve probably heard the sad commentary about people who faithfully attend Mass on Sundays. Yet in the parking lot immediately after Mass, it’s as if none of what they heard, did, or sang at the liturgy “stuck” or made a difference in their lives. Attending Mass is just a rote exercise so they can fulfill the requirements for being a “good Catholic”, but their faith doesn’t change their hearts or affect their day.
Paul had the opposite experience in Phillipi. He and his companions went outside the city in search of a place to pray, but instead encountered a group of women and proceeded to talk with them about Jesus. Lydia, a prominent woman of the town, really let it sink in. She converted, had all the members of her household converted, and then opened her home to the disciples, begging them to stay with her. Think about that for a minute. When is the last time you celebrated Mass in the community and allowed the message to so deeply sink into you that it changed your plans and actions going forward?
It may seem unrealistic that such a conversion could happen every Sunday. But is it? Jesus’ teachings are deeply challenging, especially to those of us in privileged Western society. If we aren’t changing our actions and plans as a result, then we aren’t listening. It won’t always be such a major change as Lydia experienced. Although we need to remain open to that possibility, it is admittedly less frequent. Yet we need to constantly be growing and changing in our faith or risk having it die.
I am trying to better track the lessons I learn each week. I reflect on them, pray with them, open my heart to God, and challenge myself to let them affect my life in at least some way. I find that often the lessons build on each other, which means that over time I am learning significant lessons and making necessary adaptations. I am constantly being confronted with ways I fall short of the Gospel. It is humbling, sometimes to the point of discouragement. Yet God calls me on.
Take some time today to think and reflect. What have you learned during Lent and Easter? What challenges do these Gospels and scripture readings hold for you? How can you let the scriptures sink in deeply and change your life? Let’s consciously try to be a little more like Lydia and a little less focused on getting out of the parking lot!
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.