5th Sunday of Easter

Dear Friends in Christ,

When Catholics ask “Why isn’t the Church doing something about fill in the blank?”, what they’re really asking is “Why aren’t the clergy doing something about that?” And that tendency to identity the work of the clergy as the work of the Church comes from a tragic misunderstanding of the dignity and demands of our Baptism. When anyone who is baptized is engaged in making just laws, teaching those in need of instruction, consoling the sorrowful, feeding the hungry, counseling the doubtful, visiting the sick or imprisoned, or serving someone in any kind of need, then the Church IS doing something about those problems, because everyone who is baptized is a member of the Church and bears responsibility for fulfilling the Great Commission.

Even more, all of the baptized have the high privilege and grave obligation to sanctify the world by their witness to Jesus Christ, and this can be done in every field of human endeavor. The Christian businessman who makes or sells something others need and does so honestly while treating his employees and customers with respect and fairness is bearing witness to the grace of his Baptism. The Christian politician who seeks to serve the common good and assist in the just governance of society according to the law of God is bearing witness to the grace of her Baptism. Christian doctors, lawyers, teachers, musicians, professors, accountants, journalists,
architects, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, engineers, mechanics, soldiers, nurses, social workers, secretaries, pharmacists, artists, and shop keepers who work to the uttermost limits of
their gifts and do so with integrity and virtue are bearing witness to the grace of their Baptism.

But if all of the above is true, then the converse is also true: Christians who sin gravely and behave badly and fail to live according to the Gospel give scandal to the world and make it
more difficult for others to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. We know this instinctively about priests, but it is true no less of everyone who is baptized and called by the Lord Jesus to be
his disciple and follow him in the Way of the Cross. That is among the many reasons why all the baptized must strive with all their might to repent of their sins, believe in the Gospel, and
cooperate with God’s grace to live in the evangelical freedom of the children of God.

Finally, while living an upright life is an essential part of fidelity to one’s Baptism, it is no substitute for explicit proclamation of the saving truth that Jesus Christ is Lord. All of the baptized are also called to announce the Good News of salvation in Christ and must be
prepared at all times to speak to others about their friendship with the Lord Jesus, the truth and beauty of his Gospel, and the joy of living the life of grace in his holy Church. Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!

Father Newman