My conversion to Catholicism required two years of study and
He asked me to reflect on the meaning of the crucifix an hour
each evening for a week.
At the end of the week we met and I read him a paragraph from my journal.
“The crucifix is a symbol of the struggle to transcend the beast, which is not an external force, but a force within each of us. It causes a spiritual death that God wants us to transcend by acting with faith and compassion. We must love the other as we love ourselves..
I was a deeply committed and my mentor felt I had a vocation.
The exercise was a test of my vocation.
My catechist invited the Vocations Director from the Conventional Order of
St. Francis to join us.
As a child I went to services every Saturday in an Orthodox Synagogue.
I studied the Old Testament in preparation for my Bar Mitvah.
One does not have to be Christian, or believe in God to grasp the meaning of the story of Christ and learn from it.
The most powerful force in creation chose a lowly birth among the lowliest people in the Roman Empire.
This story of how God chose to incarnate is the central point of the Gospel, the Good News.
The good news is this: God loves all of His Creation regardless of race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or class; His Creation belongs to His Creation, all of it.
“God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that he himself “became poor” (2 Cor 8:9). The entire history of our redemption is marked by the presence of the poor. Salvation came to us from the “yes” uttered by a lowly maiden from a small town on the fringes of a great empire. The Saviour was born in a manger, in the midst of animals, like children of poor families; he was presented at the Temple along with two turtledoves, the offering made by those who could not afford a lamb (cf. Lk 2:24; Lev 5:7); he was raised in a home of ordinary workers and worked with his own hands to earn his bread.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 197)
“In this context we can understand Jesus’ command to his disciples: “You yourselves give them something to eat!” (Mk 6:37): it means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor, as well as small daily acts of solidarity in meeting the real needs which we encounter. The word “solidarity” is a little worn and at times poorly understood, but it refers to something more than a few sporadic acts of generosity.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 187)
Let no one consider themselves to be the “armour” of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression! May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman, above all, the right to life and the right of everyone to religious freedom!
Pope Francis Sunday, 21 September 2014
Rob Goldstein 2016