Something tells me that, if Ronald McDonald were a real person, there’d be a rosary in those goofy clown pants of his, and that smile on his face would be from just having received Holy Communion. Yep, Ronny Boy would be a Catholic, because the restaurant he represents is amazingly Catholic: Catholic, that is, in its original Greek meaning of “universal” or “worldwide.”
It truly is amazing when you think about it: McDonald’s started in California in 1945 with just one restaurant, and now can be found in almost every country, with over 30,000 restaurants worldwide. Wherever you go, it seems, you will find a McDonald’s. And furthermore, no matter how far you are from home, when you walk into a McDonald’s you know what to expect. The menu might be in Chinese, but it is still the same menu with the same Golden Arches. And although it has all of these different locations, it is still one company: united by one CEO, with one board of directors, led in each area by regional managers.
The Catholic Church is universal in an even more amazing way. It started in a small upper room in Jerusalem with a handful of believers receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, and now nearly two thousand years later, it can be found in virtually every corner of the globe! Its members worship in over 200,000 parishes, and yet they form one church. Wherever you go, you can find a Catholic parish. The language and music might be different, but it is the same worldwide Church. Every Sunday, the same Scripture readings are read in all the Catholic parishes throughout the world. The same Eucharist is celebrated, with the same carefully spoken words that Jesus used at the Last Supper. And we are united by one visible leader, the Pope, together with the bishops who lead each geographical area.
Of course, there are some huge differences between the Catholic Church and a company like McDonald’s. The Church is not a business, concerned with dollars and cents, but rather she is the Body of Christ, concerned with the salvation of souls. The Church can claim as well, “billions of billions served,” but she offers not hamburgers and fries but the love and joy of Jesus Christ. Ronald McDonald battles the Hamburgler, who is always trying to steal hamburgers, but the Church fights Satan, who is alive and well in our world and seeks to rob heaven of souls.
I ask you: did Jesus plan for his followers to be a bunch of disunited, contradictory and competing groups—the hamburger equivalent of McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Sonic, and all the rest? I don’t think he did. I think he could—and did—do better than that. He sent his apostles forth to baptize, to teach, to spread the Good News: in other words, to continue his ministry, throughout the nations and through the centuries. The Church is his Body, and because Christ is one, so too the Church, as his living body, is one and united. Through his Church, Jesus continues to lead and teach us; he continues to feed us with his Body and Blood; he continues to forgive our sins; he continues to heal the sick and raise the dead to eternal life. It is truly amazing!
A Catholic can say, “I’m part of something bigger than myself. I’m a vital part of Christ’s worldwide Body. And I’m lovin’ it!”
“One Church”, a talk by John Martignoni of the Bible Christian Society
(free to download on MP3 or to order on CD)
“The Church: A Biblical Portrait”, a review of New Testament verses about the ChurchApologetics, Catholicism, Jesus, Ronald McDonald