Dear Friend in Christ,
Pitchers and Catchers report!
Those words stand for hope for baseball fans. It means that this past week the pitchers and catchers arrived at Spring Training to begin preparation for this upcoming Major League Baseball season. This week, the other players arrive and the practicing will begin in full swing.
I offer a hearty welcome to all our seasonal visitors who are here because of spring training. I hope you find St Thomas Aquinas to be your spiritual home-away-from-home. I love baseball—always have. So, if you get a moment, please say hi to me after Mass so I can give you a proper welcome.
The fresh hope that saturates spring training is a potent reminder of the constant reason for hope that we have in the light of our Catholic faith. The Psalm we hear at Mass this Sunday (Psalm 103) specifies this hope in these words: “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.”
St Paul sees this hope fulfilled as he says in the second reading (1 Cor 3:16), “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” The temple in Jerusalem was hope in built form in stones, jewels, and gold, because there God dwelt among his people; the priesthood offered sacrifices of reconciliation and thanksgiving in sacred liturgy; a healed and happy world was foreshadowed; God dwelt in the tabernacle. The temple gave sure hope that God had not abandoned his world.
Paul’s point? You—the baptized—are now God’s temple. So much so that the old temple was only temple-like. From this perspective, the whole structure of the Catholic Church radiates more clearly. We aren’t any old building, but a temple: because of Jesus, God dwells here; he gives us a priesthood that offers sacrifice and brings reconciliation and thanksgiving; a new world is anticipated; God dwells in us as individuals and the Church. When we engage these tasks with our hearts and minds, our lives give hope to a world that suffers from the delusion that God is cruel or absent or an empty idea.
Here, in the Church, we experience this hope so as to pass it on to the hopeless. You could say that our mission is to bring spring training-like hope to the world. Because if we are the temple of God, God’s great plan for us is just getting started.