My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
How are you doing? We are half-way through our calendar year, and it is time for us to take our spiritual temperature. It is easy to walk outside and feel the heat and humidity of our Florida summer. We don’t need a meteorologist or the weather channel to inform us of the temperature. It’s hot. What is your spiritual temperature? When you encounter people, are they able to identify you as a Christian, as one who serves through God’s love? Is your faith energized by God’s love?
Pope Francis said, “The Good News has a name and a face: Jesus Christ. As messengers of this good news, you are ready to bring a word of hope to the Church, to your own country, and to the wider world. You are ready to bring good news for your suffering brothers and sisters who need your prayers and your solidarity, but also your enthusiasm for human rights, for justice, and for the growth of that “love and peace” which Jesus brings.”
Over the next few weeks, we will be concentrating on the word, “freedom” as we celebrate Independence Day, July 4, and most importantly, as we pray, reflect, and act upon the gift of religious freedom within our country and abroad. We may think of freedom in the sense of our own personal freedom; we wish to be free to do whatever we want. Freedom, in sight of the Lord, takes on a different meaning. Freedom takes on the meaning of love. We must keep in mind that, without the love of God, evil cannot be overcome. In this pilgrimage of life, we seek God. We seek to be free from enslavement of worldly riches. We aspire to heavenly riches and dedicate ourselves wholly to the advancement of the kingdom of God on this earth and to the reform and improvement of our earth for the benefit of God’s children. We remember the men and women who fought courageously for the freedom of our country that we might worship God and live our faith. What is our spiritual temperature?
In Baptism, we are incorporated into Christ’s body, and through the Eucharist, we participate in Christ’s self-offering for the whole world. Through the Eucharist, we are called to deeper participation in the mission of Christ. Christ desires to reign in the minds, wills, and hearts of all people. Through our worthy reception of Holy Communion, we become instruments through which Christ extends His reign in time and space, offering hope to a world in need of His saving power.
Our spiritual temperature is gauged by our witness to the Gospel. The kingdom of God is not concerned only with what lies beyond the here and now. There is a close, practical relationship between the kingdom of God and our actions in this life. In this issue of the Florida Catholic, you will learn about many people whose actions bring hope to this world, such as the star students of Good Shepherd Catholic School or the parishioners of St. Ann Catholic Church in Haines City who are celebrating 50 years of faithfulness or the Sacred Heart students who won a local STEM contest or the Catholic Volunteers who offer their goodness for the benefit of others in need.
Our spiritual temperature is also measured by the gift of reconciliation. It is taken by our ability to forgive as the father forgives. We cannot love without forgiveness. The breath of God’s love is ever present for those who wish it. It is our living that brings forth its fullness.
May our spiritual temperature be on fire, full of God’s love for one another.