When the news broke about the three kidnapped girls that escaped after 11 years of torture in Cleveland Ohio, like many of you from around the Country I was mesmerized and horrified. The more I learn about the case the more disturbed I felt. I saw this clip below and there was one thing Michelle said that stood out for me above the rest.
She said, ” Ariel Castro, how could you hypocritically go to church every Sunday and then come home to abuse us?” A powerful statement and perhaps this statement sticks out for me as I’ve heard it said twice before from victims abused by individuals who were very involved in their church and attended regularly. I bring this up in no way to make the church look bad. I bring this up to give ourselves something very important to think about and that is, “What kind of role model of discipleship are we?” I recently read a statement by Greg Laurie that said, “You’ve heard the statistics- 95% of all Christians have never led another person to Christ. Why is that? I believe we way over-complicate this thing we call evangelism”.
For me our greatest role model currently is Pope Francis who is reaching out to the marginalized and poor of our society. He is shaking up the Vatican, his security and the world by warming the hearts of those that have become frozen. Our world and especially our youth need positive role models like him. Our youth are searching for them. This is why ticket sales for movies like Superman, Spiderman, Batman etc., are through the roof and Harry Potter books were flying off of the shelves and kids were actually reading. We are in a time when we need emerging role models called “saints” more than ever. You and I are called to be saints (Romans 1:7).
Pope Francis is teaching us by his words and example of how to be a saint. Just last week at world youth day on July 23rd he addressed the millions of youth in Brazil and his address has become my favorite quote by him. He said, “We need saints without cassocks, without veils – we need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. We need saints that go to the movies that listen to music hang out with their friends. We need saints that place God in first place ahead of succeeding in any career. We need saints that look for time to pray every day and who know how to be in love with purity, chastity and all good things. We need saints – saints for the 21st century with spirituality appropriate to our new time. We need saints that have a commitment to helping the poor and to make the needed social change. We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it. We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends. We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, and theater. We need saints that are open sociable normal happy companions. We need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane. We need saints.” – Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2013
This pictures of MILLIONS of youth that traveled far and wide to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to hear a message about God from our Pope and International leaders, have mass and be in communion with other like-minded searchers, says it all doesn’t it?