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On Monday night, Bishop Murphy spoke to a large crowd of Young Adult Catholics on his pastoral letter “Belong More Deeply.” Each of us responds to God’s call differently. For some, we hear the call and immediately seek Him with open hearts. For others, we hear the call and take years of searching in order to answer and embrace it. Call it the St. Therese and St. Augustine syndrome. Or, as Bishop Murphy sees it, the shepherds and the Magi groupings.
In looking at the Christmas story, he sees direct parallels to the Church today. There are two important groups present at the manger: the shepherds, who follow the directives of the angels with joyful enthusiasm, and the Magi, who from afar seek the Child Jesus. Both groups belong in the Christmas story, and both groups worship the Christ child. “How blessed we are if we are among those who, like the shepherds, have come quickly to Jesus and regularly pay homage to Him by our active participation of mind and heart in the Sunday celebration of Mass,” Bishop Murphy writes. “Yet we have also many of our brothers and sisters who are still searching for Him, may be longing to know Him better but, for one reason or other, they cannot find their way to the manger of Sunday Mass. Like the Magi they want to discover the newborn King in their lives and have already followed His star by baptism and some closeness to Jesus. But for many different reasons or circumstances, they are not with us at the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, the holy sacrifice of the Mass.”
As the Church moves forward with the 3rd Edition of the New Roman Missal, the shepherds, those faithfully present every Sunday to worship Jesus at Mass, are invited to belong more deeply with the new translation. We are called to embrace the new translation, not to gripe or moan about learning new responses and movements at Mass. They are created in order to open our hearts more fully to God’s grace. We are asked to go deeper in our prayer life and to build a more solid relationship with Christ.
The Lord is always asking us to belong more deeply to the Church and to Jesus – it is a universal call that does not end when one reaches a certain age or status. As shepherds, we are asked to say, “Count us in! We will support the Church and contribute as we can.” We are also asked to turn to the Magi, those who seek the truth, and say, just like Andrew to Simon Peter, “We’ve found the Messiah – come and meet him.”
“Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. It’s the only news that’s always good and always new,” Bishop Murphy told the crowd. It’s our mission to bring that news to the people who seek it. When we joyfully participate in the Mass, when we allow God’s grace into our lives, when we live as if Christ makes a difference, and when we invite others to see the truth, we open the hearts and minds of others to Christ. We will reinvigorate the Church when we ask ourselves and others to belong more deeply.