By Andrew Kreye
What a fun word to shout! But I promise you, I’m doing all I can to not be a heretic.
Now to the topic…
Y’know the word “parish”? The place where parishioners go? It comes from the Greek word paroikia, meaning “sojourning in a foreign land.”
To be a parishioner means that you are someone living temporarily in a place that you’re not originally from.
So, if you go to a Catholic parish, you’re an alien.
By following Christ, we are saying: “This life is a pilgrimage. We are not home yet, but we are on the way home.”
1. Living in the World
“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul. Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that if they speak of you as evildoers, they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation.” – 1 Peter 2:11-12
Over the past few years of my life, I have met many people who have a great love for our Lord. I admire these people greatly both for their faithfulness to God and for the love they show to others.
As I have gotten to know each of them, I’ve thought, “Wow, I want to be like this person.” The thing is, they’re all very different. Some are married, some are priests, some are consecrated religious, and some are single.
All of them are striving to live their lives for Christ, and all of them are doing it in different ways.
Well, if they’re all different, I can’t be like all of them, right? So, what is it about their lives that is so attractive? Why do I want to be like them? Let’s use some algebra and look at the common denominator.
Two of the things they all have in common is that they are not living for themselves, and they are not living for this world.
2. Not of the World
“I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.” – John 17:14-15
Feeling uncomfortable or “out-of-place” in the world should be expected. Even Jesus experienced this at birth; who could be more out-of-place than the infinite God lying in a feeding trough?
Fulfillment can’t be found in this world because the world is finite. It has an end. But we were made for God. We were made for the infinite.
Fulfillment is “the achievement of something desired” (thanks, Oxford Dictionary).
St. Augustine wrote, “Yet man, this part of Your creation, desires to praise You. You move us to delight in praising You; for You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You,” (The Confessions).
Although we live in the world, our true home is in heaven, where Jesus has “prepared a place for you,” (John 14:2).
This home is temporary.
3. Going Home
“Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – 1 John 2:15
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote, “Man was created for greatness—for God himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched,” (Spe Salvi 33).
That stretching is accomplished through prayer. As we remain faithful in our relationship with God, He gives us the grace to receive Him more fully.
As our hearts are filled more and more with God, we become more prepared for heaven.
I recently heard someone say that if we live our lives preparing for heaven, once we get there, we should say, “Oh, I know this place already!”
I pray that the Lord stretches our hearts, that we always prepare more room for Him as we continue on the way Home.
“Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18