Who we are shapes our views and influences our actions.
For example, if we believe that we are thieves then we see our environment and the people around us as opportunities for self-enrichment. And the more we plan to accomplish this, the better we become at it.
To take a positive example, if we believe that we are firefighters then we cannot help but see fire in a certain way too—as an opponent perhaps, or as something that competes with us for the lives of our community. And of course, the more we take our role seriously as a firefighter, the more we train and practice, even strategize on how best to fulfill our role.
Now, here is the point. Catholics all over the world (around a billion of us), are currently going through something of an identity crisis. Some of us see our religion as just one social construct among many, and some of us see ourselves vaguely as representatives of a God of love. And because our vision is confused, what we do bears little fruit.
So the question is, who is a Catholic?
A Catholic is a Christian who can trace his origins to the early Church, a group of people founded by Jesus Christ to take a message of salvation and discipleship to the entire world. In this way, the message (and not just its destination) is catholic too because it contains all that is needed for all times and peoples to become the men and women that God has called us to be.
Our identity is infused with the idea, or better still, with the command to share the Good News of Jesus. And that has very practical implications for our lives.
Do you see why that matters?
If being Catholic only means that we have wonderful basilicas and places of worship, then our task is quite simply to maintain and perhaps create more of them.
If being Catholic only means that we should be good to others, then that too would make our job infinitely simpler.
However, if being Catholic means that we are the people anointed by Jesus Christ to bring the most important message in world history to every last person on this planet, then that too comes with its own set of necessities, the first of which is to evangelize.
What Does That Mean?
This means that our identity is infused with the idea, or better still, with the command to share the Good News of Jesus. And that has very practical implications for our lives.
It means that, like the thief, we must sometimes work in secret to build up the Kingdom of God. Like the firefighter, we must be willing to compete with other forces for the minds and lives of our communities. And of course, it means that we must learn, train, and practice how best to share the message that has been entrusted to us for more than two millennia now.
You see, we like to say quite loudly that scandal, financial trouble, and unfaithfulness is somehow getting in the way of the Good News, but the fact is actually much simpler.
Evangelization is coming to a halt locally and globally because of our identity crisis.
It will only thrive in your home, parish, and diocese when more and more Catholics come to know who they are.