On May 14th the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto welcomed young adults to meet Archbishop Thomas Collins. At Faith Connections’ Theology on Tap, Toronto's new Archbishop spoke to a full house about “Being a Christian Today.” He reminded listeners of Jesus' call to always show love without expecting anything in return; and he asked listeners to realize the importance of the spoken word in the sacraments. Christians must show love that touches all. Focusing on personal relationships with God and close friends is not enough. A Christian must gather together strangers, estranged friends, and people s/he dislikes in a way allows everyone to relate to each other. Jesus taught by example when He gathered strangers together to celebrate the banquet in Cana. Today, the colonnade of St. Peter's square gathers all humanity into the arms of the Church. God teaches how to show love in many ways.
Showing love is not easy because it involves a commitment to sacrifice expectations and comfort. While it may be easier to show love to friends, Christian communities must be wide open and reaching out. Love must flow out from each member of the church. It is most unfortunate if a Christian ceases to show love because s/he assumes that someone else will. Showing love can be as complicated as inventing a cure for a disease or as simple as "just being there" while someone suffers. Do not expect perfection from fellow Christians. The Church is made of people, and people are not perfect. If one finds a perfect church and joins it, then on that day it will cease to be perfect. Forgive the sins of fellow Christians infinitely just as Jesus forgave those who betrayed Him. Turning a transgression into a moment to teach patient compassion will allow a Christian to forgive but not forget. If one does not forgive a transgression, then one will unnecessarily suffer the bitterness of the memory.
Christians must remember the importance of the spoken word in the administration of the sacraments. Since the sacraments represent God working on a human level, only a human can administer them. For the sacrament of reconciliation, one cannot simply ask God for forgiveness in one's thoughts. One must hear the words of forgiveness from a priest. A couple that wants to marry cannot just say "I love you" to each other. A priest must pronounce them married.
Finally, Christians must accept teachings of the Church that may not be clearly stated in writing in the bible. Where in the bible does it say everything has to be written in the bible? Jesus himself only wrote a few letters in the sand. The Gospels came from writers who reported His spoken words and actions.
Today, religious teachers who study the bible in a contemporary context also have much to say to Christians through homilies, deeds, architecture, and other teaching models that are relevant to the challenges faced in the world today. For example, Catholics today learn about the potential strength and compassion of women by honouring, but not worshipping, Mary. Statues and images allow Catholics to celebrate (but not worship) beauty. In response to the individualistic and materialistic tone of contemporary society, some Catholic leaders teach that one does not own anything, for everything is a gift from God. Continuously interpreting the teachings of the bible is an important job for Church leaders. Catholics need to listen.
Given that Archbishop Collins packed so many thoughts into his one hour lecture, one can safely say that Toronto Catholics will be able to look forward to many more wonderful and exciting things coming from the Archbishop's office.
Author: A Young Adult Photo By: Michael David Dizon
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