Our patron saint compels us to rebuild the Church, one encounter at a time
I recently had a wonderful experience with some college students. Sister Laura Zelten, the campus minister from the local university, had invited me to spend a Saturday morning with seven young people who were preparing to lead faith-sharing groups on campus, but had little background in Scripture.
I began my presentation that Saturday by unrolling a large paper football field and explaining the timeline of the Old Testament in terms of the yard lines on the field. Then I showed the students a map of the Holy Land and pointed out the places that were significant in the life of Jesus. Following that, we did some activities on the formation of the Gospels. Finally, we considered how they might lead a discussion on a Gospel passage.
At one point in my presentation Sister Laura interjected a question concerning the students’ response to what they were learning. A couple of young women made some positive remarks, and after a brief silence, one of the young men very sincerely said, “I am just loving this.” In a conversation with him during lunch I learned that although he had had very good religion teachers and very good religion courses, he had never studied these specific things about the life of Jesus.
Each Oct. 4 we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. His whole spirituality can be summed up in one word – incarnational. Francis was greatly intrigued with the details of the humanity of Jesus and sought to imitate Him in every way possible. He had a tremendous desire to help people know Jesus as a real, living Person. In that way he would follow Jesus’ command, “Rebuild my Church.” And yet today it still seems that Jesus is the best kept secret in the Church.
If we are to live in the spirit of St. Francis, we, too, must respond to the call to rebuild the Church. Our mission is to do what Francis did, to reveal Christ Jesus. That is my motivation as I prepare, by request, to make one more trip to meet with another group of students at the university.