Don’t you hate it when a perfectly brewed, piping hot cup of coffee turns tepid, then cold? You set down your wax initialed cardboard cup and get into some long conversation on the phone only to realize it’s 11:13 am and you never finished your morning caffeine investment. You lift the cup to your mouth only to savor cold, stale coffee. You didn’t ask for an iced drink but you got one.
God didn’t ask for iced Catholics either. He asked for on fire, blazing infernos that are willing to burn the roof of their mouth speaking the truth for His glory. Instead, he got us: tepid, conservative and un-daring Christians fearful of speaking the truth.
The other day I was talking with my friend Pete about a former teen, Bob. Pete is one of the most dynamic Catholics I know. One year Pete gave the chastity talk to the guys on retreat. A few years later, Bob saw Pete talking to a woman at Starbucks. Uncensored, Bob yelled out, “Hey Pete, you still chaste!?!” Blenders stopped, espresso machines went silent and heads whipped in Pete’s direction. Pete, who is usually proud and vocal about his faith, was mute and mortified.
I will be fair and say that Pete had a moment of embarrassment on his hands, but when he shared this story with me all I heard in my head was Revelations 3:15, “I know your works: I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
How many of us are lukewarm Catholics? By lukewarm, I don’t mean lacking in passion. In my opinion, today’s lukewarm Catholics are men and woman who have taken their eyes off heaven and reduced spirituality to a comparison game. We compare sins and we compare holiness, using the people around us as our “measuring stick.” Heaven is not high school and our salvation is not a test graded on a curve. St. Peter is not going to take all the people who died on a particular day, line us up and rate us from best to worse, allowing everyone who is average to pass through. This is not how we enter the Kingdom of God.
Jesus showed us in the Gospels that he liked to call people out: the apostles, the woman at the well, the Sadducees and Pharisees and Zechaus. We have all read the Zacchaeus story in Luke 19. Jesus picked the most undeserving person in the eyes of the community to dine with. Because of his intense desire to see Jesus, he climbed a tree to simply catch a glimpse of Him and after eating a meal with him turned over half his possessions to the poor. Then and only then did Christ offer him salvation. Zechaus was HOT! In the eyes of the world his faith was cold, but Christ called him out and he was consumed with the fire of Christ.
I think all of us need someone to call us out from a tree and point out our sin, our comparisons, and our cold, lukewarm spirituality. Not only does God need on fire Catholics, our teens need to warm their spirit with the fire from others, hopefully us. Christ pulled Zechaus out of a tree and my friend Pete was confronted by a teen at Starbucks. Who will you call out, not in a spirit of judgment or comparison but in a spirit of love and hope?
May the passion of Our Lord this Holy Week reignite your passion for Him.