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Saturday, October 19, 2013

An Inconvenient Gospel

"Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching." 2 Tim 4:2

Convenience is huge in the United States. Convenience stores are everywhere and although they charge more for ordinary products, they are easy to find and use, especially in an emergency. Health care providers also offer urgent care centers where anyone can go for medical treatment without cluttering up emergency rooms in hospitals, and many office workers can find exercise and fitness centers at their place of work. St Paul would be amazed and perhaps horrified.

Trying to make the Gospel convenient and accessible can be helpful in many parishes, but it can also be very dangerous. Reducing the Gospel to another commodity can lead people to think that the Good News is only valuable if it is useful and productive. Most of us know, although we sometimes wish it were otherwise, that the Gospel is not a commodity, and living it is often inconvenient. The Good News is not something we can buy and compare to other products. It is a way of life that offers us a set of values, and a ritual system to help us pray, while only demanding that we offer service to others without cost and despite its inconvenience.

Friends recently told me that the most enjoyable and fulfilling day of their week were visits to a homeless shelter where they met people with real needs who were almost invariably grateful for their service, and were able to have honest conversations about their values and dreams. At the same time, while they it was often inconvenient for them to get to the shelter, they knew it was a Gospel demand they wanted to fulfill.

Today, do something inconvenient for someone else.

What aspect of Gospel life most sustains you?

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