Among all the signs and symbols in our churches, one sign that doesn’t receive much attention is one of the most important: the “Exit” sign. What we do outside of church: the ways we serve, the degree to which we love, our commitment to evangelization, is a vital counterpart to what we celebrate at Mass.
Saint Paul illustrated this point when he appealed to the Christians in Corinth on behalf of their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. The church in Jerusalem had always been poor, and Paul made it a point as he travelled to other churches to ask for donations to help them out. In addition to being a passionate preacher and a committed pastor, Paul was also a very effective fundraiser.
Paul’s ability to mingle pastoral and financial concerns shows us that Christianity is not just about praying and going to Mass. It’s not just about getting redeemed and securing a place for ourselves in heaven. It is just as much about caring for God’s people, binding up the wounded, and preaching the Gospel.
But the Christian life isn’t only about the “religious” things we do like prayer, service, and evangelization. It’s also about our approach to recreation, the way we treat our neighbours, the way we do business, and even the way we eat and drink. It’s about the way we allow the Holy Spirit to influence us no matter what we are doing. It’s a matter of welcoming the Holy Spirit into all the areas of our lives and keeping them in balance.
We all face the challenge of what we will do after we pass the Exit sign at the end of Mass. One of the best ways to answer the challenge is to try to stay open to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in all the aspects of our lives: our relationship with God, the way we deal with everyday life, and our call to serve the mission of the Church.