For all of us, life can be and should be an exciting experience. It does not have to be dull, drab, or boring. When I say this I am, of course, not speaking in absolutes. None of us would expect, or even want, continuous excitement.
Nevertheless, all of us, saint or sinner alike, do live for those times and places when life is exciting. And we more or less endure that which lies in between. In this, we are all the same. The difference between us is found in the ways and means by which we seek our excitement.
In fact, one of the major sources of moral misbehavior in our society today is the search for excitement. A young person grows weary of the routine and begins to experiment with drugs, or drinking or sex in that same search for a little excitement.
What is it that motivates some people to climb mountains? Why do men and women ride rockets into outer space? Part of their motivation might be a devotion to science and a desire to serve humanity. But I suspect that part of it might also be their love of adventure. There seems to be something in our human nature that would risk an exciting death rather than endure a ‘boring’ life. But for evil or for good, the need for excitement is deeply rooted in our soul.
With this background, let us turn our attention to the realm of our faith and see if the same truth applies there. I dare say, most of us seldom, if ever, think of our Catholic faith or Sunday Mass as a source of excitement. It is something to believe in, something to revere, and something to sustain us in times of trouble. But a source of excitement? No. It is far more likely that people regard it as boring.
I heard a story about a mother who knocked on her son’s door one morning and said, “It’s time to get up.” But the son answered, “Go away, I don’t want to go to Mass – the music is drab, the prayers are predictable, and the preaching is dull.” But the mother, not to be denied, went in, shook the bed and said, “Stop this nonsense and get up right now. You’re forty years old, and you’re the pastor! You’ve got to go, whether you want to or not.”
I hope that story isn’t true, and it probably isn’t, but it does speak of a truth – the truth that many people see religion as something dull, not something exciting. But in the New Testament, one finds a totally different concept. The events reported there are sometimes dangerous, often difficult, always demanding, but never dull.
Jesus, then and now, challenges you and me with the exciting prospect of what could happen in our personal lives if we allow our faith in Him to truly be what it ought to be. None of us is everything that we ought to be. But most never think of our faith in Jesus as a means of realizing all our own potential. We think of it more as a family heirloom – a piece of jewelry that belonged to our grandmother, or an old watch handed down across several generations. Where do we keep such an heirloom? It is probably stored in some safe place at home. It may even be in a lockbox at the bank. Do we treasure it? Yes, it is very dear to us. It would trouble us deeply to lose it. But do we ever use it? No.
So, for many in our Catholic faith, we believe it, revere it, love it, and would even defend it. But use it? That seldom, if ever, occurs to us. Yet the entire New Testament was written by and about people who used their faith as a means of becoming what they had the potential to be. Their message to us is simple and most direct. We do not have to stay the way we are. Miracles of character are possible for everyone. I, for one, cannot think of anything more exciting than that.