Love Over Lies
“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
I just returned from a weekend at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, a biennial event which draws 25,000 or so Catholic Youth from across the United States. This year, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph sent nearly 250 of our youth, youth ministers and chaperones, representing several of our parishes.
It was a blessing to spend several days among so many teenagers. While my eardrums got a workout from the volume of the music, I also observed the Holy Spirit at work in many ways. Along with the fun, friendship and camaraderie that quickly develops among the youth and all in attendance, I was struck by the witness of several of the speakers and the impact it made on both the youth and the adults.
While the featured speakers addressed many topics for the youth, many of them in some form or fashion spoke about finding the unconditional love of the Father, revealed in the Son, and being set free from the lies that blind us to this love. Many of those who spoke recounted falling into a life of self-seeking or fear, grasping at things the world tells us will bring happiness, only to find disappointment. By grace, the lies were revealed by the light of God’s love, and a new life was discovered.
One of the great gifts of the priesthood is to share in the joy of a person who discovers his or her freedom in Jesus Christ, a freedom that comes from finding Jesus and receiving his merciful love through the Holy Spirit. Over my days in Indianapolis I heard many confessions and it was there, in the sacrament of Reconciliation, that this experience of God’s mercy was expressed, often accompanied by tears. Again, I was struck by how so many of the adult chaperones were affected too. I suppose that no matter how old we get, we all still carry a bit of child in us, along with many of the hurts and lies that get introduced to us while we are children and adolescents. These lies twist our thinking and hold us back from living in the freedom Jesus has won for us. Sometimes these lies are at the root of some compulsive or addictive sin or behavior. Jesus wants to heal these wounds and free us from these evil spirits. He can and he will.
As we approach the end of the Church’s liturgical year and the Feast of Christ the King this Sunday, may we all know the love that is stronger than our sins, the love that died on the cross for us—the “love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge” (Eph 3:19).
Viva, Cristo Rey!
+ Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr.
Catholic Key, November 24, 2017 issue