Back in the Louisville days, goodness me something like 30 years ago, I began teaching religious education classes for adults seeking to learn more about Catholicism. From time to time I would make the point, referring to various moments in mankind’s development, that world history and religious history would overlap, each affecting the other.
The years since then have shown me that, while I wasn’t necessarily wrong in making that statement, I had a rather young, immature appreciation for such matters.
I’ve come to see that world history and religious history didn’t just bump into each other now and then; they are two phrases for the same thing.
The reasoning goes back to Genesis. According to Bishop Robert Barron, through divine love mankind was created for mission, to go and make a difference in the world according to the moral precepts God set forth.
Now let’s keep things in balance. If the Christian faith is properly understood and executed, believers will show no desire to see churches dominate and rule governmental bodies. Our purpose is to teach and provide a moral foundation for representatives to consult as governmental decisions are reached.
Certainly, history shows we haven’t always done a good job in our advisory efforts. Christians have fallen prey to arrogance, pride and fear more times than I have space to address.
But the job of the Church and its members has always been the same, and remains so today: to evangelize, not running away from the world (though we are at times sorely tempted) but engaging it as mission ground, guiding the world’s development in the light and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Mission ground. For many, the term sparks images of rough, undeveloped lands whose natives have never heard the Good News. Yes, missionaries serve honorably in faraway locales. Let us be mindful of their work and supportive in prayer and material aid.
However, missionaries are also badly needed in your own neck of the woods. Too many people in our own communities don’t really know about God, and need what we can offer. And our work isn’t over until that number reaches zero.
Satan will try and convince you that you don’t have what it takes to change even a small corner of the world. Don’t listen to his trash talk. If you are a child of God, you already carry within you what is needed to make a bad situation better. Lean on your faith, and trust Him.
Next weekend highlights a pivotal point in which the actions of believers truly began changing world history, as we come to Pentecost. That event deserves a good bit of examination, and we’ll get into it next time. God bless.
Michael Clapp is a deacon at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mayfield.