Most Reverend Gerald Cyprien Lacroix
Archbishop of Quebec
Primate of Canada
Cathedral Basilica Notre-Dame de Quebec, Quebec
November 7, 2013
« Sharing God’s love for those who are lost »
Très chers frères et sœurs dans le Christ,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Word of God is a lasting treasure that reveals to us God’s wonderful plan for our lives and guides us every step of the way so that we may experience abundant life. Today’s first reading, from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, puts before us certain disagreements that opposed Christians to each other. Many were converts to the Christian faith and were in the process of adopting the fullness of the faith with all its expressions in daily life.
How interesting it is for us to read about the struggles and hurdles they had to face. How encouraging it is for us who face similar struggles as we strive to become better Christians, witnessing to our faith and longing to be holier Catholics in today’s world.
St. Paul does not hesitate to proclaim: “We do not live for ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord… we are the Lord’s." You will not find a clearer statement against an illness that is sweeping our world and doing a great deal of damage on its path: individualism.
As history unfolds in our Western Civilization, there is growing individualism. Rights of individuals are often valued more important than collective rights and values. The “me, myself and I” attitude is a terrible cancer that is eating away at the social fabric of our families and workplace. It is endangering our sense of community building.
The Word of God puts things back into perspective. We do not live for ourselves. We live for the Lord. We live with others and for others also. There is a wonderful book that has helped me tremendously to reflect on this issue. The title is: It’s Not About Me: Rescue From the Life We Thought Would Make Us Happy. That is exactly what the Lord wants to do in our lives: rescue us from unhappiness, from a selfish life that leads only to sadness and emptiness. Becoming a Christian is entering into a new mentality that eventually leads to a new way of living. Christianity is New Life!
That is why we are invited to take time to listen to His Word and to learn from his teaching. He is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” The Jubilee Year we are about to celebrate here in Notre-Dame de Quebec with the many pilgrimages that will take place throughout the upcoming year will be an excellent opportunity to be renewed in our faith and in our commitment as disciples and missionaries. Passing through the Holy Door will be a tangible means of expressing once again our desire to enter through Jesus into the mystery of faith.
We are so blessed to belong to the Knights of Columbus, who continuously stimulate us and encourage us to live for the Lord and for others: serving, giving, sharing, caring for the needy and the poor. As we live our Knights of Columbus life, we become better citizens, happier people and better Christians.
Les textes de la Parole de Dieu proclamés aujourd’hui nous rappellent des éléments fondamentaux de notre vie chrétienne. D’abord, nous ne vivons pas pour nous-mêmes, mais pour le Seigneur. Toute la vie de Jésus notre Sauveur nous révèle l’importance qu’il accordait aux personnes, à l’autre, à la vie en communauté. La vie de Jésus est le reflet de l’amour que porte son Père et notre Père pour l’humanité. D’ailleurs, les paraboles qu’on retrouve dans l’Évangile de Luc illustrent combien chaque personne est importante aux yeux de Dieu au point qu’il est prêt à tout laisser pour partir à la recherche de la brebis perdue. Frères et sœurs, c’est ainsi que nous sommes aimés et c’est ainsi que nous pouvons aimer à notre tour et veiller au bien-être humain et spirituel des personnes qui nous entourent.
The Holy Spirit teaches us to see the world with the eyes of Jesus and that is why we are able to “see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living’’ (Ps 27). The Gospel of Jesus Christ constantly invites us to open the doors of our heart and of our lives to make room for others, especially those most in need of love, of light and of truth, those of our brothers and sisters that have not yet experienced the joy of New Life in Jesus Christ and are trapped in the destructive nets of individualism.
As we discover the Gospel and as we contemplate Jesus, we discover how his whole life was open to the people he met and preoccupied with their wellbeing, both human and spiritual. Jesus teaches us that, for God, every person is important, loved and called to abundant life. Righteous or sinner, we are precious in God’s sight. That is Good News for us and for all of humanity.
One of the definitions of Jesus in the Gospel is: “the one who welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Let’s be thankful for that! How often we have experienced that love and mercy through the sacrament of penance, through prayer, as we allow the Lord to find us and put us on His shoulders to bring us back home to inner peace and a life filled with light and truth.
But we are called to do more. Like our Lord, we are invited to go out to seek those who are lost in the wilderness of today’s world; to find them and bring them back home to the Lord and the loving community which is the Church.
At this time in our history, it is not only one lost sheep out of the one hundred; it would be more accurate to say that in today’s situation, it is closer to 99 that need to be found. And it worries me when I observe that we concentrate our efforts mainly on those who have remained within the flock. That is why the new evangelization is a priority in our Church.
Are we not distressed by this situation? Pope Francis said in his homily at Mass this morning, reflecting on these parables, “God has a ‘loving weakness’ for those who are lost.” The question for us is this: Are we, like our God, concerned about those who are lost or estranged from the Church?
Today’s parable tells us of the good shepherd who goes to seek and search out the lost “until he finds it.” Yes, you heard right: “Until he finds it!” There will be no rest, no effort too great, no danger too daunting for the good shepherd.
Brother Knights of Columbus, the Lord Jesus counts on us today to be the ones who will go out to search and find those who are lost. Pope Francis is calling the Church to pursue this great mission. On Pentecost Sunday this year, he said: “The Church must move outward from herself to go where? Toward the peripheries, no matter what they are, but to get out! Jesus tells us: ‘Go to the whole world! Go preach! Go proclaim the Gospel’” (Mk 16, 15).
Until the lost sheep are found, there will be no rest for any of us. There will be no effort too great. We will seek out the lost and we will carry them on our shoulders, better still on our hearts, for we believe that they have their place among us.
It would be wonderful if people around you and me, around your councils and assemblies, would say: “These Knights of Columbus, they welcome sinners and eat with them,” because that would mean that we resemble more and more our Savior Jesus Christ. There is an urgency for us to go out to reach the growing number of people who are without Christ, without the Church, and often without hope, without direction for their life. Entering through the Holy Door will most certainly be a profound spiritual experience, a public expression of coming to Christ, drawing closer to Him. But it should also produce in us a profound desire to go out, as Jesus invites us, to meet our brothers and sisters in need.
We who have encountered Jesus Christ, we are the ones who are called to go forth and search until we find those who are suffering from sin, loneliness, emptiness. For we have encountered the One who has brought light into our darkness, peace into our lives and love into our hearts: Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.
The core principles of our Order invite us in a special way to live the Word of God we have heard today, calling us to holiness. Charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism are principles that help us live the Gospel and build a better world, one person at a time, one family at a time, one community at a time. May the Lord sustain our daily lives and allow us to serve Him and His people with faithfulness and generosity. That is the call we want to answer every day.
As we approach the Eucharistic table, we come with hope that He will nourish our faith and our commitment to those most in need. “Wait for the Lord with courage, be stouthearted and wait for the Lord.” For that is how we answer His call today and every day!