Going to church does not make one a Christian any more than standing in the garage makes you a car. I see this posted on Face Book by many lately. I guess what they are really saying is, just because one goes to church, it does not necessarily mean that they go out into the world a lead a pious life. But back to the original statement; I sorta have a problem with that. Going to church can make you a better Christian. If one attends church time and time again, yet goes out feeling no different than when they came in, that individual is only there in body, not spirit. Even then, God can make changes in one's spirit, small though they may be, that can lead to bigger changes in one's mind and soul, later.
I do not go into a garage and pray to be transformed into a car. I do go to church and pray for the forgiveness of my sins, I pray for the petitions of those in need, I pray for my own guidance, and thank God for filling me with the holy spirit, thank Him for my blessings and my suffering. I listen to the daily readings and homilies and reflect on how they apply to me today. I go to church for my daily bread. When the priest holds the host up high and says "This is the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world." my spirit is lifted up high, knowing I am receiving Jesus, body and blood, into my body, into my soul, into my spirit.
So, I don't intend to be incarnated into a car today, but I have faith and hope that by going to church today, I will be a Christian who will go out into the world and spread the good news.
Monday, August 02, 2010
I have a neighbor who is a Jehovah's Witness. Once in a while, out in the yard, he will engage me in religious conversation. He knows I am Catholic and go to Mass pretty much daily. He knows my faith is strong. Still, at times, he will "test" my knowledge for whatever reasons. The last time we spoke, I let him rile me some. He kept asking me questions about the Catholic faith as if to show that we were not worshiping the true and proper God. He asked if they teach the bible at Mass. I informed him that, no, they did not; however, I explained that we have four scripture readings: one from the old testament, a Psalm, one from the new testament, and finally the priest gave one from the Gospel. The readings all linked to the thyme of the day, the homily tied the readings all together in one easy to understand daily devotional. He huffed and retorted, "If you do not have bible teaching at the service, why then go to church?" All the while, he cited bible scripture, verse and paragraph. I advised him that I had read the bible once and constantly read from it but did not have all the reading memorized. He was all the time, making a mockery of our practices; wearing the cross around our neck was considered idol worship, daily communion was only to fool us into thinking we were being saved and other smug comments about our Catholic faith. He could not understand why we hold the cross in such high regard. He corrected me on several points I made, making me look a bit foolish.
The bottom line, I tried to tell him was, our knowledge of the scripture was not half as important as our personal relationship with God. Yes, my eyes are on the cross above the alter, much of the Mass, but in my view, whatever brings us closer to Jesus, is doing what is right. After all, it is all about Jesus Christ, who came to die for our sins. We are sinners and I need the close context of daily Mass to keep me on the right path, which is only to easy to stray from.
Why this neighbor is trying so hard to prove me wrong, is nothing short of evil in my mind. I never once questioned his religion. To me, if you are Christian, it will show through in your daily life, how we treat one another, what we do to help each other, and love. Sure, I will still read the bible at my pace, but more important, I will worship my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and body. If we all did that, our earth would be an entirely differnt world.