A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Transforming, Not Conforming

Posted on: March 18, 2013

Now that the Church has selected a new pope, media attention has turned to the public’s opinion on the choice of Pope Francis and on what his priorities should be.

I’ve read a number of articles stating that many people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, would like to see the Church allow female priests, end celibacy for priests, expand the role of the laity, and so on. In short, they’d like to “modernize” the Church.

I think these articles miss an important point: as Christians, we’re not called to adapt to the ways of the world but to transform ourselves according to God’s will, as the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:2*:

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

To learn God’s will for our lives, we need to spend time talking and, even more importantly, listening to God in times of prayer, following the example Jesus gave us during his earthly ministry. We also need to spend time reading God’s word to learn what he expects of us. In Micah 6:8, we are told this:

He has showed you, O man, what is good;

and what does the LORD require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

In the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5-7), Jesus tells us about God’s will on such topics as charitable giving, prayer, and forgiveness. And in Mark 12:29-31, he tells us what the most important commandments are:

Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Scripture tells us that we need to transform our lives by loving God, by acting in more loving ways toward our family members and our neighbours (in the broadest sense of the word), by giving to those in need at home and abroad, by modelling true forgiveness, and by working for social justice. These are areas where our society is often sadly lacking.

And if we do these things, the Church can teach “modern” society so much through the way we its members live.

*Quotes from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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