Proselytism and the Finding in the Temple

finding in the templeWhy do we bother proselytizing, or to ask the question using the definition provided by Pope Francis, why do we seek to persuade others to embrace the Holy Catholic faith?

Well, for one, because it is precisely the mission of the Church to do so, but also because this is what charity demands of us.

Praying the Rosary this morning, it occurred to me that the Finding in the Temple is a fitting reflection on “proselytizing” as a supreme act of charity ordered toward helping those who long for Christ.

And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch. And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem. And his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day’s journey and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business? (Luke 2:41-49)

Even among the greatest of saints, there is none in this life who attained the degree of unity with Christ as that which belonged to the Blessed Virgin Mary; the sinless Mother of God who ever rested and remained in the Divine will.

As Pope Pius XII stated in his Encyclical on the Queenship of Mary, Ad Caeli Reginam, “For from her union with Christ she attains a radiant eminence transcending that of any other creature.”

Though her immense privileges were undoubtedly a source of unshakeable and unspeakable joy, the likes of which were matched in degree only by the sorrows that pierced her Immaculate Heart, we contemplate in the fifth Joyful Mystery, the Finding in the Temple, how Our Lady was left to long for physical union with her Son and Savior when faced with His absence; her joy in some sense incomplete until such time as He was found.

This event in Our Blessed Mother’s life is a fitting image of the Christian journey wherein even those who are configured to Christ in the waters of Baptism, no matter how devout and sincere, are destined to long for more in this life until such time as they cease being separated from His Mystical Body, the Holy Catholic Church.

It is in the Holy Catholic Church alone where one finds:

  • The temple wherein the voice of Our Lord is present in the sacred Magisterium that continues to teach and give wisdom in His name.
  • The temple wherein the “Father’s business,” the work of redemption, is continued by Our Lord in the here-and-now in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
  • The temple wherein Our  Lord Jesus Christ is truly, really, and substantially present in the Most Holy Eucharist.

In short, we seek to persuade others to enter the Holy Catholic Church and to persist in the Holy Catholic faith because it is only in doing this that one may experience the joy of finding Our Blessed Lord in the Temple.

And what are we to think of those who refuse to proselytize?

It is as though they are among the company of Mary and Joseph, who in spite of knowing precisely where the Lord can be found, refuse to alleviate the sorrow of those who seek Him by pointing the way to the temple that is the Holy Catholic Church alone.

Unless, of course, they neither know nor believe that this is the case…

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