It seems to me that we Catholics, in the remaining years of this twentieth century, have a golden opportunity to make the gospel real and relevant to a world that is weary of wars, terrorism, bondage, weary of emptiness, and increasingly weary of moral degradation. It is a time when we should prepare ourselves to be the church at its best. We must remind ourselves that the world is ready now for the message of God’s love, delivered by people like ourselves who demonstrate that love in their own lives.
During most of the century, a large part of the world’s population has been in revolt against religion in general and against the Catholic Church in particular. And we must recognize that some of that revolt was inevitable. Many times, we have been preoccupied with trivialities, while the world around us was in desperate need of someone to really care.
But now the pendulum seems to be swinging back the other way. All across the western world, there are signs of an unofficial movement of renewal. From everywhere come reports of vitality within our parishes. Secularism has failed in its efforts to eradicate religion. They have run up against the truth of something Jesus said centuries ago: “Man cannot live by bread alone.”
Thus, a quiet revolt is beginning to take place here and there around the world. There is a spreading and growing revolt against a pagan world as more and more people face the futility of life without God.
These are encouraging signs, because the only hope for our world lies in what St. Paul called “a fresh spiritual way of thinking.” If the world is to return from the edge of despair and the brink of self-destruction, we must recognize and accept spiritual values. It is not enough to believe in science. We have seen what science can do when it serves the purpose of a pagan world. It is not enough to believe in education. We have seen in this century the unspeakable tragedy of trained minds when they are bent on selfish and destructive ends.
Above all such elements in our modern civilization, rises the realm of spiritual values – justice, righteousness, mercy and good will. These put purpose in life and give meaning and direction to it. Those are the values that were preached by our great ancient prophets. These are the values that Jesus both taught and practiced. These are the values which our world today and in the 21st century cannot afford to ignore.
We are in desperate need of saving and I see no salvation other than that which is offered in Jesus: His basic faith in God and the human race, and His basic principles for living. Like the early disciples, we must confront ourselves and our world with Jesus. Christ is the one viable option to the despair, degradation, and disintegration of our pagan world.
We need to swing back to the side of the Christian gospel. Let us proclaim it with all that we have and are. We must no longer live as the pagans do; we must put on that new person, created in God’s image. We must be like Christ in all things. This truth will set us free and give us a new sense of peace and tranquility in our lives.