"If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever."
St. Thomas Aquinas
Catholics believe in "one holy Catholic and apostolic Church." So, let's unpack this:
One: We are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 2:28). To claim one Church means to recognize that the Body of Christ extends across time and across continents. Our brothers and sisters are all humanity.
Holy: This one is kind of a give-away, but it means virtue. We're called to be holy and perfect, as our heavenly Father is holy and perfect.
Catholic: Well, it's the Catholic church so this one isn't really a shocker....Jk. Catholic means "universal," so to be Catholic means to extend across all things. It is the universality of the Church that allows us to walk into Mass anywhere in the world and, despite the language difference, know what is going on. We receive the same Word of God and the same Bread of Life, no matter where we are in this world.
Apostolic: from the Greek apostello, meaning "to send forth." An apostolic Church reaches out to all, seeking to make known Christ's love across all corners of the earth.
BINGO. Apostolic. Let's tackle this one today.
We're called to be apostles, but what does this look like?
It means venturing out into the unknown. It means speaking up when our culture wants nothing to do with us. It means standing up for what we believe in.
It means courage, and bravery, and one heck of a journey. If you're looking for comfort, this isn't the way to go.
But, then again, when we worship a King who died on a Cross, do we really expect a world full of comfort?
Our life as Christians isn't about surviving. It's not about avoiding causing offense. It's not about keeping our mouths shut, even if we do so out of respect for others' beliefs or lack of belief. No, it's exactly the opposite.
Being a Christian means making joyful noise. Not out of spite for others' beliefs. Not out of hatred or pride or ignorance. But out of joy: We have such a great love. We have such light. If, then, we receive so much, shouldn't we give it out? Shouldn't we share the Good News (the Gospel)? Shouldn't we tell the world what we have seen?
That's what the early disciples did. They emerged after Pentecost on fire for Christ. They shared His message to all nations. People thought they were wasted, but nope, they were just high on the Most High.
"It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard," they said (Acts 4:20).
They ran to all corners of the earth to share this news: Jesus was dead, but He has risen. The powers of hell cannot prevail against Him. What love He has for us to die for our sake. What power He has to overcome the cruelest of deaths.
Despite arrest and persecution, they preached with love and joy and passion. It was impossible for them not to do so. Many died at the hands of those unwilling to believe them. But they died in the embrace of a God who knew their suffering. And, like Him, earth's suffering soon ceased to have a hold on them as they found their eternal rest in Heaven.
Let's imitate the early disciples. Let's run from the tomb like chickens with our heads cut off, announcing that Christ has risen. Let's run from our homes to all corners of the earth, bringing others to know the Good News.
We are not a ship meant to remain pristine and safe. That's not why we're here. We're here to fight.
So, don your armor. Prepare for battle. And run out with reckless abandon. The harder your fight, the bigger your wounds, the better. Then, like St. Paul, you can look back at a life well lived and say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."