Monday, July 29, 2013

Belonging to Something Bigger

Though I love Chicago, I begrudgingly have to admit that New York sure feels like the "first city" of the world at this moment in history.  From its sheer size and pace of life, to its impact on global markets and the culture at large, the Apple truly is Big.

In a recent visit to New York, my wife and I were able to catch up with her wonderful family, who all live in the city.  We took walking tour through Times Square and made our own mini-pilgrimage to Saturday evening Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.  Even though the Cathedral is undergoing major renovations--both interior and exterior--, it felt like we were entering one of the great Cathedrals of Europe.

At the end of Mass, as we walked out the center aisle, I was startled to notice that the main doors opened directly onto the figure of Atlas across the street in Rockefeller Plaza.  The juxtaposition of this sculpture opposite the great Cathedral made me feel sorry for the poor fella--bearing a weight that is just too much for him to handle.  I felt like calling out: "Don't worry, you don't have to go it alone!"

Of course, as a Christian I can say this with confidence:  We are never alone.  As disciples of Christ and members of his Church, we are part of a living body that transcends space and time.  Indeed, every time we walk into a Church building, however humble or grand it might be, we are immediately connected with hundreds of millions of Christians around the globe, not to mention billions of believers who have kept the faith for centuries.  We are supported in our earthly journeys by a "cloud of witnesses," the Communion of Saints, who are much closer to us than we could ever imagine.

Yet every time we walk out of a Church building, we are called to confront our own "Atlas within"-- that part of us which vainly struggles to bear all the weight of our daily lives.  We are challenged to repent of our own worldly idols which whisper false security--whether it be power, riches, prestige, or pleasure.  And then we are sent to reach out to those who, like ourselves, long to belong to something both bigger and better.  Indeed, we are sent to bring the Good News to a world waiting for something more.

Ultimately, our "belonging to something bigger" hinges on the fact that we belong to Someone Bigger.  We can confidently say to Atlas, "Don't worry, we know Someone who can and does carry the weight of the world!" 

It is this same Someone who touched the hearts of millions during World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.  And it is his Church on mission--the mystical Body of Christ in the world--which Pope Francis sent out to bring Christ to the ends of the earth.  (If you haven't seen any of the great Catholic coverage of this global phenomenon, check out

As disciples of Christ, we need to continue opening our eyes to the true beauty and strength which sustains the world--that is, to self-giving Love.  This Love is Incarnate.  It is Crucified but Risen.  And it is clearly On-the-Move!