by Deacon Michael Bickerstaff | September 3, 2017 12:04 am
The things that we do tell us who we think we are. (The truth is that who we are should determine what we do… yet the world behaves as if what we do defines who we are… that is a topic for another article.) You have heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” We know this is very true.
There are many people who deliberately say one thing and do another. We refer to these people as hypocrites. They lie about who they are—intentionally—in order to gain something they desire.
But, there are many others who mean what they say, yet fail to back up their words with deeds that match their words. This behavior is not intentional in the way that a hypocrite acts. These people are not intentional hypocrites, but they fail nonetheless.
A young man in Mark’s Gospel most likely fell into this latter category. He meant well, but his love for God was apparently not authentic… even though he meant it to be. There was something in his heart that held him back from truly loving God… something that indicated that he wasn’t authentically who he thought and said he was. He asked Jesus what he must do to attain eternal life. After he told the Lord about himself, the Gospel records:
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions” (Mark 10:21-22).
We were made by God for the eternal communion of love with Him. That is our supernatural end and the source of our dignity as human persons. It is who we are to be.
Authenticity is living in a way that backs up our intention of being who God intended us to be. Or stated another way, authenticity is conforming oneself to the will of God. Possessing worldly riches do not preclude living an authentic life according to God’s Will. But, apparently this young man loved his worldly riches too much to allow God fully into his heart. Jesus counseled him to give these perishable treasures away to make room for the treasure of heaven that never perishes.
The mission of the Integrated Catholic Life™ is to help you live your faith at home, work, in the marketplace and in the public square, as well as at church. In the Gospel, Jesus looked upon the young man… and loved him. Can you imagine? Think of the Lord looking upon you… and loving you. What does He see in your heart?
The following general questions may help you examine six areas of your life to reveal how authentically you are living.
Do I faithfully keep the Lord’s Day by attending Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation? Do I actively participate in the Mass with my heart—interiorly in my spirit? Do I offer my worship to the Lord completely, in thanksgiving and docile surrender to my God? Do I avoid servile work on these days, observing and practicing a receptive contemplation of God? Do I faithfully and joyfully participate in the sacramental life of the Church, including sacramental Confession? Is my attention at Church directed towards God or self?
Do I recognize and keep my responsibility to place God at the center of the home and family? Do I demonstrate to my spouse and children that they are more important than my work or any worldly treasure? Do I love them by being present to them… caring for them… placing them first, after God, in my priorities? Do I teach and hand on to them the Catholic faith continually introducing to them the Living Christ? Do I show my children that their achievements in the spiritual life are more important than what they achieve at school and in sports? Do I pray frequently and regularly with my family?
Do I recognize and observe that my career supports my vocation and not the other way around? Do I treat my customers, clients, peers, subordinates and superiors as Christ would? Do Catholic moral and social teachings guide my decisions and actions?
Do I strive to live in a humble and prudent manner, not chasing after every new and “must have” product and service? Do I prefer the treasure of Heaven more than the riches of the world? Am I considerate of others… in the checkout line and the parking lot?
Do my decisions, actions and votes reflect the teachings of the Church? Do I respect and keep the laws of the land that comport with Church teaching and oppose and work to overturn laws that do not? Am I prepared to give reason for the Christian hope that is in me… able to explain my beliefs and proclaim the Gospel to a secular world in dire need? Do I do so lovingly, trusting in the Holy Spirit to convert minds and hearts? Do I seek to promote the Right to Life and the Common Good, observing both Solidarity and Subsidiarity, giving preferential treatment to the poor and vulnerable?
Do I practice and live a deepening prayer life, motivated by the love of God? Does my faith and the teachings of the Church inform my every decision and action? Am I dependable, trustworthy, kind and compassionate… a person of honor and integrity… a person of faith? Do I share the Gospel with all whom God places in my life… by word and example… and good deeds, generous in works of mercy? Is my love for God manifested in my solidarity with the poor? Am I moved only to tears, or am I moved to help those in need in a tangible and sacrificial way?
Into the deep…
Deacon Bickerstaff is available to speak at your parish or event. Be sure to check out his Speaker Page to learn more. Into the Deep is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™.
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