Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 1, 2010
God's chosen win greater prize than a gold medal – Smith
God offers his prize, not to an elect few, but to the whole world
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - With hundreds gathered at St. Joseph's Basilica, Archbishop Richard Smith said that he could not resist comparing the Rite of Election to another type of election happening in Vancouver.
A special type of choosing took place when athletes from around the world were selected by their respective nations for the Winter Olympics.
"Now the judges choose or elect those who are most fit, most qualified, to receive one of those precious medals, whether bronze, silver or ultimately gold," said Smith.
"Well, when you gather for this Rite of Election, you are being chosen, elected, for something far more precious. You are being called to membership in the Church, and the Church is the Body of Christ. You are being chosen for a life in communion with Jesus."
The first weekend of Lent saw 147 catechumens come to the basilica to express their desire to be baptized at Easter. The rite was a joyful celebration that involved the presentation of the catechumens, affirmation by the godparents, and the invitation and enrollment of their names.
Also involved were candidates, the parish community, its pastors, catechists, sponsors, RCIA coordinators and delegates in a Liturgy of the Word.
As catechumens continue studying and praying, the Church formally ratified their readiness to be baptized, confirmed and to receive the Holy Eucharist. These students of Christianity became the elect and expressed their will to receive the sacraments at Easter.
"Those who are chosen for the Olympics are the very elite few, and they are the most qualified. When we are summoned or chosen by God for membership in the Church for salvation, we are experiencing the call that God offers not only to the few, but also to the whole world," said Smith.
The catechumens have been elected to the eternal life known as salvation. God wants all people saved and he issues this call not to those most qualified but to everybody. Despite our weaknesses, sins and lack of qualifications for entry into heaven, God's love qualifies us, said Smith.
"The athletes who gather in Vancouver, we know that they are incredibly focused on what they are doing and upon attaining their goal.
"Because so much is at stake, we can be no less focused. That's the reason for the Lenten season. We should always be attentive to God's call," said Smith. During Lent, he noted, people are asked to heed the Church's call to focus in a particularly intense way on God's love and mercy.
TRUST IN GOD
Jesus was tempted by the devil to trust in himself, rather than put his trust in God. People face those very same temptations.
"How often are we tempted to trust not in God but in ourselves? How often are we seduced into thinking that we can define our own moral standards, and that we can decide for ourselves how we ought to live?
"Somehow God's ways, God's teachings become eclipsed and secondary when we put ourselves first. Those temptations come to us all the time," said Smith.
Better to choose unity with Jesus and we will have through him the strength and confidence to resist temptation.
"When we do fail, we will not be kicked off the team. We will not lose our corporate sponsorship. We will be forgiven. This is the love of God," said Smith.
Olympians must believe in themselves and have confidence in their own athletic prowess. When seeking salvation, however, one's own abilities and confidence are never enough, the archbishop said. Faith in Jesus, without qualification - turning our hearts over to him fully - is what leads to salvation.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.