Back in the day I had a neighbor who was on the pilgrimage. He wasn’t a practicing anything, but he had a teasing interest in faith. He wanted to know about the Catholic faith, but he also liked to tease.
"Where are you going?" he asked me as I headed out the door. "Going to compline services," I answered.
"What’s that?" he responded. "Evening prayer at the end of the day," I said.
"Why don’t you just call it ‘evening prayer?’ You Catholics always talk large," he laughed.
I’ve tried to keep that in mind. Being Catholic is not about talking large. In On Mission for The Church Alive! we are trying to evangelize with eternal truths. But we want to do so by living them in the small moments.
This weekend we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent. "The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah" (Jeremiah 33:14).
This is the season of anticipation. During Advent we are reminded of our role in building the "kingdom of God" in our time, as we anticipate the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of all time.
This is large theology, and we could delve deeply into the meaning of it all. But let’s keep it simple. When we pray in the Our Father "Thy kingdom come" we are asking God to "bring your life into mine." In other words, may God be the ruler of my heart. And when we are asked to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ, we are asked to live out a good life in every moment we are given.
How? By caring for hungry, thirsty, sick, imprisoned, abandoned and neglected — all those things that Jesus tells us separate the sheep from the goats in the Second Coming. We are "on mission" to bring the reality of God’s love — the kingdom of God — to everyone we touch.
Let’s not make the reality of God’s kingdom so large that it becomes an intellectual concept rather than a loving daily invitation.
We build the kingdom of God in our homes, living out, sharing, nurturing the faith of our loved ones. On Mission for The Church Alive! we grow in faith within our families.
We build the kingdom of God in strong and vibrant parishes, celebrating the faith together as the people of God, the body of Christ.
We build the kingdom of God by living out our faith in our neighborhoods and our community, sharing the goodness and mercy of God.
We build the kingdom of God in the Diocese of Pittsburgh with our parishes, vicariates and districts, with our priests, religious and laity one in mission under our bishop, united with the church universal.
It’s simple really, not a large concept at all. We build the kingdom of God by striving to live the faith in every moment of our daily lives.
I can’t tell you what happened to my neighbor. He moved away before the end of the pilgrimage. But the one thing I do know is that I’ll be asked in the next life, "Who did you bring with you?" I hope he’s there to answer.
Lockwood is former general manager of the Pittsburgh Catholic and diocesan director of communication.