“Come, Follow Me”
Today and next Sunday, the Church of Washington celebrates the Rite of Election and Continuing Call to Conversion in which we will welcome over 1,300 adults and younger people who are to be baptized, enter into full communion with the Church, or otherwise complete their Christian initiation at the Easter Vigil. Each time our local Church gathers for these joyous occasions, it is one of the most powerful and inspiring manifestations of the Holy Spirit alive and at work in our community.
What makes this celebration so beautiful is that there are so many particular expressions of how each person has chosen to follow Jesus and has found their way to his Church. Their conversion is a visible sign that people from all walks of life are continuing to respond to our Lord’s invitation: “Come, follow me.” Jesus continues to challenge those who seek God to “come and see” where he is found today, in his Church – among the People of God, in the Body of Christ, within the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
These catechumens and candidates remind us as well that all of us are touched by the Holy Spirit in concrete and ordinary ways. It is God’s Spirit who transforms hearts and changes lives. He is the principal agent of evangelization. It is the Holy Spirit who has led our newest members of our family of faith to a deeper encounter with our Lord through the sacramental life of his Holy Catholic Church.
Indeed, the Holy Spirit is the source of the Church’s sacramental life, giving us special grace to grow in holiness and thereby more fully reveal Christ’s life within our lives. As Saint Paul teaches us, “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
The journey of faith by those seeking to enter into the Church also teaches those of us who were baptized many years ago about that total, ongoing conversion that is called for by Baptism. It calls each of us to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, and to deepen our faith and share it with others, so they too can experience Jesus alive in his Church and in his people. The Holy Spirit works in us, and through us, to transform our hearts and the hearts of others, so we can all encounter and be forever changed by the Risen Christ.
There is another group of people who have helped make these days of welcome very special. They are the family members, fiancés, neighbors, co-workers and friends who were a source of inspiration for this group of catechumens and candidates. Throughout this final preparation period leading up to the Easter Vigil, we learn that often the Spirit works through specific individuals to help someone take the next step.
Saint Peter encourages us to always be ready to give an explanation of the reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15). So, if you know someone who is seeking a deeper relationship with our Lord or is asking questions about what we believe and celebrate as Catholics, why not work with the Holy Spirit and begin a conversation with that person? Especially in a time when people are so worried about the future and dissatisfied with what the secular world has to offer, why not share with those you encounter the “secret” of your contentment, tranquility and joy – Jesus Christ?
Please join me in praying for our catechumens and candidates as they enter the final days of preparation before Easter. Let us also pray that we will be bold and courageous in responding to the Holy Spirit to be a source of inspiration for someone looking for a home in the Catholic Church.