22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time: Just Do It

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It’s one of the most basic and rudimentary rules for being a creative artist: You have to do it. I can’t be a writer based on all the great ideas that I someday hope to do something with. If I’m going to call myself a writer, it means I do actually have to sit down and write something.

If humanity is created in the likeness of God, our creativity is part of that nature. And while God is able to speak His thoughts into being, our works take more effort and numerous re-workings. God creates a thing and calls it good; we agonize over a thing and eventually pronounce it “good enough.” Or we abandon it and move on to new, more exciting ideas. But it always comes down to this: at some point, we have to go from just thinking to actually doing.

Or, as Saint James puts it this week, “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

God calls us all to be active participants in His work of Creation. As Christians, our job on Earth is to take whatever part of the world, whatever situation we might find ourselves in, and to sanctify it. Through the Sacraments we are given holiness from God, and through our everyday lives we infuse that holiness into the world around us. We become a living monstrance, bringing the presence of Christ into every nook and cranny of daily human existence.

And thus do we cooperate with God in the building of His eternal Kingdom. In the words of Lumen Gentium, we “by combined efforts of the world, if they are an inducement to sin, so that they all may be conformed to the norms of justice and may favor the practice of virtue rather than hinder it.” Peter Maruin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, put it more succinctly: “we want to make the kind of society where it is easier for people to be good.”

Fixing a broken world might mean getting our hands dirty sometimes, but that is part of the mission. Jesus today gives us reassurance that “nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” The evils and failings of the world we live in do not necessarily defile our own hearts.

I say “not necessarily,” because there is (as Jesus says) the danger of the evils and failings within our own heart. Part of living the good Christian life involves knowing those faults within ourselves and dealing with them. And, as necessary, avoiding those temptations that might bring them out. If your eye causes you to sin, you might not need to go so far as to pluck it out, but you should at least be mindful of where you let it look.

But we should not be afraid of the world. God made it to be lived in, and desires it all to be saved and sanctified. That is our role within Creation. So we just need to go do it.