Dear Parish Faithful,
At the beginning of his “pastoral” teaching in ch. 12 of his Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul delivers an admonition that is timeless in its challenge for serious-minded Christians:
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For the distinction between Christians and other men, is neither in country nor language nor customs ... Yet while living in Greek and barbarian cities, according as each obtained by his lot, and following local customs, both in clothing and food and in the rest of life, they show forth the wonderful and confessedly strange character of the constitution of their own citizenship. They dwell in their own fatherlands, but as if sojourners in them; they share all things as citizens, and suffer all things as strangers. Every foreign country is their fatherland, and every fatherland is a foreign country. they marry as all men, they bear children, but they do not expose their offspring. They offer hospitality, but guard their purity. Their lot is cast “in the flesh,” but they do not live “after the flesh.” They pass their time upon the earth, but they have their citizenship in heaven. (Epistle to Diognetus, v.)