For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek. (Romans 1:16)
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
A friend is a friend at all times, and a brother is born for the time of adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)
I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. (John 17:20-21)
Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together as one! (Psalm 133:1)
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18).
No one can deny the excitement of hearing a great homily or a teaching from someone who seems to know exactly how to bring out the meat of the Gospel and apply it directly to our lives. We leave the church or hall feeling filled, enthusiastic, and optimistic. Of course, the power is not just in the words spoken, but in the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16) and the power of the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:17-18). But what happens a few weeks later when the words start to fade from memory? What happens when we face our mundane daily struggles and busyness?
Eloquent preaching and teaching is obviously better than dull exposition, and can inspire us, but what truly sustains us and deepens our faith in the long term as Catholic men is our faith community and the support of other brothers in Christ. Seeing other men staying faithful to prayer, seeing them at church or in our men’s group or our prayer group, walking with them as they grapple with suffering, praying with them as we all struggle against temptation—this is what solidifies our convictions and helps us live them out (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10; Proverbs 17:17).
The reason why a faith community is so powerful is that it follows the way God made us to live: not in isolation but in relationship (Psalm 133:1)! Through our faith community, we also learn the message of the cross as we see our brothers’ lives transformed by Jesus in the nitty gritty events of the day. Jesus is the Word made flesh, and in a similar way, the church is the teachings of Christ made flesh. It is us, his body, living out his word in our everyday lives. Remember that Jesus commanded us, before he went to the cross, to love one another as he has loved us (John 13:34) and he prayed that “they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us.” (John 17: 21).
Even though it may seem strange in our individualistic world, we truly do need each other if we want to grow in faith. We need the witness of other brothers in Christ. We need to see the way they live out his word. What’s more, they need the same thing from us! And most importantly, we need their prayers and support (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
If you really want to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ, share your life with other Catholic men. Be counter-cultural and seek out fellowship (1 John 1:7). Share your struggles and prayers and hopes with them. Be ready to “rouse one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). Join a faith-sharing men’s group in your parish. If there are no men’s groups in your parish, consider forming one — or join a Bible study and build relationships with other men.
As you stand shoulder to shoulder with other Catholic men, the message of the cross will penetrate deeper than you’ve ever known before and you will be “transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Then you will become a greater witness to this darkened and broken world.
“Lord Jesus, help me break down barriers within me so that I can live in fellowship with other Catholic men. Open my eyes to see my need for their support and prayers, and their need for my support and prayers – so that we may grow together as brothers in Christ.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
- As described in the article, have you ever listened to a homily or talk that inspired you when you first heard it, but within a few weeks its impact was gone? If so, why do you think that occurred?
- What impact did the article, and the Scriptures referenced in the article, have on your understanding of the importance of Catholic men supporting one another as brothers in Christ? Why do you think this support is necessary?
- What has been your experience in developing strong relationships with other Christian men? How has their support or prayers impacted your life?
- If you are part of a Catholic men’s group, how has this impacted your life?
- If you are not part of a Catholic men’s group, are you willing to join one? Are you willing to start one? Why or why not?
- Take some time now to pray for a greater openness to sharing your faith, and your life, with other Catholic men. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.
Maurice Blumberg is the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a ministry of The Word Among Us(www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.