Where is Jesus Christ Now?
by Father Brian J. Soliven on Sunday May 21, 2023
The fifty days of Easter are now drawing to a close. We can soon officially stop saying “Happy Easter” to one another, our friends and our dear family. Now people will stop thinking Catholics are weird, or at least in regards to that salutation. The pope, the Blessed Mother, relics, purgatory and all our other seemingly bizarre practices and teachings may still keep us from winning a popularity contest. But that’s ok. We’re not Catholic because it’s easy. The famous 20th century English convert, G.K. Chesterton put it best when asked why he became Catholic. He simply said “Catholicism is true.”
Our mission now as 21st century Catholics in California is the same mission that Jesus gave his first century disciples in Jerusalem: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Cf. Matthew 28:19-20) These were the last words our Lord told us before ascending back into Heaven. Each Christian is now tasked with this “Great Commision” to spread the faith to all the corners of the Earth. 2,000 years later, the spread of the Church is nothing less than remarkable. Despite our human failings, the Church is present and alive on every continent and country. Of the 7.88 billion people alive today, one third of humanity professes to be Christians. One sixth of those, totalling nearly 1.36 billion (17.7%), are Catholics. Here in our own country, Catholicism is the largest Christian body with 61.9 million members. In the Golden State, 250 years after the first Spanish arrived on these shores establishing the California missions, giving us the names of our biggest cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco, 30% are Catholics, numbering around 10 million souls.
The “Great Commision” of Jesus Christ continues. As impressive as these numbers are, the throbbing heart of the Catholic Church is not simply racking up stats on a graph sheet. The mission of the Church is to “make disciples” of Jesus Christ, which will always be harder to accomplish.