Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 Imitate me, then, just as I imitate Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1 (TEV)
Carlo realized that the countries of Europe have turned secular mostly because the people are tired of hearing about church. They hunger for spirituality and intimacy with God, and all we give them is church. Carlo was determined to make Jesus real again for the people, knowing from his own experience that when he preached Jesus to the people, it changed their lives. It is what they had been looking for, and the crowds at his masses proved that. Now was his chance to make that happen throughout the whole world, and it was his plan to start with the seminaries. The congregation governing the seminaries would prepare a course on Jesus. The book that Carlo’s special staff had just finished would become the resource material for making Jesus real to seminarians studying for the priesthood throughout the world. They would no longer be trained as lawyers, masters of moral law, liturgical law, canon law, the natural law. They would be molded in the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, so different from the masters of the old law, the scribes and Pharisees.
I really like Fr. Girzone’s novels. and the one quoted above and the Shepherd are among my favorites. The reason, I think, is because they talk about the role of priests and pastors, the role we are supposed to fulfill, as opposed to what we often have to do.
We are called, not to bureaucracy, not to roles of power, but roles of service. We are called to show people Jesus, not just the historical figure, not just the theological doctrines of Christology, but to help them experience the love of God, revealed in Jesus. To help them realize that Jesus loves them!
We need to know Him, for you cannot find replicated in yourself the love for others if you don’t know (intimately even) the love of God. You can teach them the theological doctrines, you can help them go through the motions that facilitate worship, and the Holy Spirit may work despite you.
(side note – this is true, not just for pastors and priests, but parents, elders, deacons, any and all that serve in the church, and the community)
It is as St. Paul also writes,
28 So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ.
Colossians 1:28 (TEV)
I love that Girzone isn’t afraid to use the phrase “the hunger for spirituality and intimacy with God.: It is what we have to pass on to those we are all tasked with discipling, with all those God the Father draws to Jesus (and Jesus brings to the Father.) This is what our world so desperately needs, A connection to God that is so close our personalities get imprinted, stamped, sealed with His image.
This is the intimacy that scares us, that we struggle to understand. That God loves us so much He wants to live with us, and us with Him. Yet this is what we are called to reveal to people, it is the “end game”, what eternity will be like, and the reason for the celebration that is known as the Feast of the Lamb.
It is what Paul is talking about with his words up top, “imitate me as I imitate Christ.” We get words like mime and mimeograph and mimic, this idea of being imprinted with the image of Christ.
And if we, those who disciple others, are called to facilitate this, it means that is what we should be trained to do, first and foremost. And how we should train others… to do this for those who are around them as well.
Revival doesn’t happen because of dynamic preaching, or inspiring worship. It comes as the Spirit draws people into union with Christ, as the Spirit moves them, using the gifts, to minister to those around them. That is what Fr. Girzone was getting at (or the character was !)
Heavenly Father, you sent Jesus to us, so that we could find life in Your Presence. In His coming, You have planned and made that happen as our sins have been forgiven, as You declare us righteous, as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us and makes us like Jesus. Help us to see this happening, as we find ourselves sharing our lives with those whom You draw to you next. AMEN!
Girzone, Joseph F.. The Homeless Bishop (Kindle Locations 4381-4389). Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.