The other day I was with a group of children, and I asked them if anyone could tell me what the difference is between ignorance and apathy. After a period of silence and blank faces, one girl raised her hand and replied, “I don’t know, I don’t care, Father.”
That was a joke, but it does explain two words that can afflict us. Ignorance is when we don’t know something. Apathy is when we don’t care. We all experience this things. There are plenty of things of which I am ignorant. And there are quite a few things about which I am apathetic. Soccer is a personal example (sorry all soccer lovers). When I grew up I never learned or played soccer, so I have no idea what most of the rules are besides you can’t touch the ball with your hands, and I also don’t care. There is not much chance of me becoming a soccer player or even a soccer fan on my own. However if someone came along who loved soccer, and somehow got me to listen to him/her, about why the game is so awesome, it is possible I would begin to care and then take time to learn the rules and strategies. But it clearly would take someone’s intervention, passion, encouragement, and knowledge for that to happen.
So too with our faith! There are many people who really don’t know much about Jesus, the Bible, and Church teaching. And surely there are also many who don’t care. They might not care because of the same reason I don’t care about soccer. They never really experienced faith, or grew up with it, understood what it is about, and why we should be passionate about it. They need an intervention—someone to come into their lives and show passion for the faith. When they see how much that person cares, they begin to wonder if they should care too. It is really hard to learn about something we don’t care about. Care is likely the first step of a person embracing faith and discipleship.
We continue our stewardship drive this week. I invite you to think about “caring” this week. Are you passionate about your faith? Could someone from the outside tell that? Is your passion contagious? A big part of passing on the faith is showing others that we deeply care for it. Saint Pope Paul VI is often quoted from his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” A witness lives that faith with passion.
Our stewardship theme this year is focused on St. Joseph. Clearly, he cared about faith, lived it, and in a manner of speaking, passed it on to us. In a way, it was quite natural for him. He cared about Jesus, because God chose St. Joseph to be the father-figure for Jesus. Jesus literally grew up with St. Joseph, so of course he cared for Jesus. And similarly for his spouse, Mary! Can you imagine living many years daily with Jesus and Mary? Yet, what St. Joseph literally did, we are called to do in a spiritual way. If we need more passion, more care for Jesus and Mary and faith, then St. Joseph is a powerful witness and intercessor. Our world needs to care or else ignorance of Christ and His ways will continue. Instead of ignorance and apathy, we need knowledge and passion for our Catholic faith. It all starts at home, in our lives, in our parish, and in all the things we do. St. Joseph, pray for us!