A WORD FROM THE PASTOR
When Are We Going To Start To Do Good?
A story of St. Philip Neri (1515-1595), who earned the title “Apostle of Rome”, is an example of the missionary zeal demanded by today’s Gospel. Philip came down to Rome in 1533 as an immigrant from Florence and a layman. When he arrived, he was horrified by the physical and moral devastation of the city. Rome had been sacked in 1527 by the Germans who had left much of the city in ruins. The Gospel wasn’t being preached, and many priests and cardinals were living in open defiance of Christ’s moral teachings. Philip prayed to God to learn what he might do.
He read the letters that St. Francis Xavier had sent back to Europe from India, where he had been converting tens of thousands. Philip thought that God was calling him to follow the great Basque (Spanish) missionary to India, to give his life in proclaiming the Gospel. When Philip went to his spiritual director and told him what he thought God was asking of him, the wise old priest affirmed his desire to serve and bear witness to Christ. However, he told Philip to focus his attention on re-evangelizing those around him, declaring, “Rome is to be your India!”
This was quite a task for one man. But Philip, relying on God’s help, started — first as a layman, then as a priest — to convert Rome, one person at a time. He would cheerfully go to street corners and say, “Friends, when are we going to start to do good?” He developed various entertaining social and religious activities to give the people, especially the young people, better alternatives for their hearts and time than those offered by the wicked culture around them. His impact was enormous, and when he died in 1595, much of Rome had been reconverted.
The same God who spoke to Philip almost five hundred years ago challenges each one of us today through the Scriptures, “Your home and your family, your workplace and your parish are your mission field!”
Many of you in the pews have very difficult time with your children who are not practicing their faith. And there are some who are our neighbors do not consider Sunday is Lord’s Day. It is the need of the hour that we realize to bring change in our own children. We may not be able to attend to all at a time; may be just one person or one family at a time. We can follow the example of St Philip Neri.
Seventy-five percent of the new adult converts to the Catholic Church reported that they were attracted by a personal invitation from a Catholic who had a lively relationship with Christ and his Church. As faithful Catholics, we will attract others to the Catholic Church—just as a rose attracts people by its beauty and fragrance. It’s our job. It’s our responsibility. We must not miss the current opportunities to be apostles in everyday life by our words and deeds. Let us start doing something good!