By Brenda Hopf
As we were driving to our house one day with our two grandkids, I asked if they would be interested in doing one of the bible lessons I started with them a couple of months ago. The lessons require them to look up scripture verses. Talan, fresh off a week-long Christian-based summer camp, enthusiastically said, “Sure!” Tenley grumbled, “No, I already know how to do that.” Before I could say anything, an argument ensued. Talan chastised his sister, telling her that we have to read the bible for the rest of our lives; and Tenley retorted for the sake of argument, as most siblings do, that that was simply not true because she already knew how to do that.
Does this scene sound familiar (and I don’t mean siblings arguing, that’s a given)? As I thought about what transpired between these two, I saw myself in both of them as my thoughts turned to my own faith life. Many times I approach the way I live as a Catholic Christian with the same mentality that my grandkids displayed in their verbal exchange. When I’m fresh off a parish mission or a retreat I can be as enthusiastic as Talan who had just attended a Christian-based summer camp, sailing along on a spiritual high, not being able to do enough for the Church or learn enough about my Catholic faith. As time passes though, my passion dissipates and I think like Tenley; “been there, done that,” and I settle back into a normal routine of living out my Christian faith. But is it okay to just plug along with a “normal routine” in my faith life? Like many of you, I attend Mass every weekend, I serve on parish committees, I am a sacristan and so on. It’s nothing to brag about or be proud of; I am simply stating the kinds of things many of us do in humble service to the Church. But is it enough?
I think the answer to this question is both simple and complex. The simple straight-forward, black and white answer is a resounding, “No, it is not enough!” Sounds simple, but what does that “no” mean? That is a bit more complex. Yes, it seems these things we do are good and surely we should continue to do them as we feel we are called and gifted. But we must not become complacent and assume God is not calling us to more; calling us to push forward to new things and greater service to the Church. Our path to eternal salvation does not just require us to check certain things off of a list and then we are good to go or earn a participation ribbon or trophy as is the common practice in today’s world. Complacency is not a part of the life of a true Christian. Our ears must always be open to the call of God and our hearts must be willing to embrace change and hard work. Christianity is not an event in which we receive a ribbon for participating, a ribbon we might think is our ticket to heaven. Christianity is a way of life; a way of life that requires an open heart and a lot of hard work, always and forever until the day we take our last breath. When we finally pass through the gates of heaven, then and only then can we say, “been there, done that.”
Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.