- Nick Bergeman, '12
I have a friend who, not long ago, told me he was gay. I was not quite sure how to respond. Being raised Catholic, and being sheltered in Catholic schools my entire life, this disclosure asked me to step out of my comfort zone. A part of me knew that I could not show approval, but my heart told me that his sexuality in no way warranted me no longer being friends with him. So, I did what I had been taught to do: I prayed. As time passed, I overcame the temptation to distance myself from my friend because I enjoyed being around him. Through my actions, I let him know that we were still friends and that our relationship did not need to be defined by his sexuality. As time passed, he told me that I had changed him too because he respects my beliefs, and wants to be a part of them. Seeing the joy I have in my life, he decided to remain single and he is now a devout Catholic.
In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees ask Jesus “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” and Jesus replies, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” Jesus’ words are a powerful message for us to remind ourselves of our true mission to build His Kingdom on Earth. My mother has been telling me since a very young age to “Build the Kingdom,” which seemed ridiculous at as a child, but as I grow older its meaning grows. The way I see it, the Kingdom of God is an expanding company, and you are in charge of the construction of a new addition to God’s building. When you do good work, God is going to commend you, but when you fail to reach expectations, God will calmly let you know what he would like done instead. However, when the building is completed, God is going to look at your handiwork, and make a judgment if it is a worthy addition to his company. If it is worthy, he is going to pay you the BIG BUCKS, but if you fail, you will not get paid at all, and God is not going to hire you again.
To my mind, each one of us called to be a builder of God’s Kingdom. The bricks and mortar of this Kingdom, though, cannot be bought at any Home Depot. Instead, we are building with living stones, with human hearts, which call for great care. I know myself to be a poor sinner and I rejoice in being invited to help in the construction of the Kingdom. During this Lenten season, I hope I will be able to reflect more on how I have been chosen to be a living stone in the wall of the Kingdom and those ways that I, through word and deed, love and sacrifice, might call others to be a part of God’s construction project.