From Msgr. McDermott
In the second reading at Mass this weekend St. Paul reminds the Church at Rome “do not conform yourselves to this age.” So it begs the question, what was wrong with the “age” in which the Christians were living. A study of history offers some answers to this questions. While the Roman Empire had accomplished a great deal in bringing order to an disordered world. While It had been able to unite a vast area of land under a single law. While it had opened up commerce among disparate cultures. While it had done these things and more, the empire at the time Paul was writing (c. 60 A.D.) had also become more and more morally corrupt. Piety and duty were being replaced by idolatry and selfishness. The empire was beginning to crumble from the inside. St. Paul understood that the only way for Christians to survive in such an era was to allow the Gospel to transform minds and hearts so as to avoid falling into the same problems of the empire.
Well we know the Word of God is living and effective (Hebrews 4:12), so St. Paul’s words to the Romans are also being spoken to us. The same warning he gave the Roman Church in 60 AD, he is giving to us in 2020, “do not be conformed to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” and heart. Our present world has many good things, but a study of the spiritual condition of the world makes it clear that we are living at a time when selfishness and idolatry are gaining traction in every corner of the world. People may not be worshipping false gods, but things like power, fame and money are the new gods in the hearts of many. And with the instantaneous access to news, posts, tweets, etc., we run the risk of drowning in information that wants to drown out the still small voice of God. But how do we experiences the transformation St. Paul calls us to?
Prayer is the answer. Public prayer in the liturgies of the Church, especially the Mass, and private devotional prayer when we are with our families at home. It is only by making space and time for God that we will hear His voice and be able to resist the pull of this age to think only of ourselves and pursue the new false gods. So for those who have not yet ventured forth to attend Mass in person, I encourage you to make a leap of faith and come back. I know that this may be a difficult step for some because it has become so easy to stay at home, but I can’t encourage everyone enough to come back. I would love to be able to tell people we have hit our capacity limits, but it has not yet happened. And for all of us, we need to pray in our homes, with our families and friends that the living Word of God, Jesus Christ Himself, the Word made flesh transform our minds to be more faithful witnesses to faith, hope and charity in a world in desperate need of all three virtues.
God bless and stay well,
Msgr. John J. McDermott