Saturday, June 22, 2013

In Faith We Are One

Today we are graced to reflect on St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, a passage that truly explains the identity of Christians, the Church.  We are one! 

“In Christ, we are neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, woman nor man, we are one.”

As People of God we are one in faith, that which we have been baptised into.  Neither race nor culture, profession, income nor status, gender nor sexuality, define us – we are one in Christ Jesus and He alone, united because we believe.  And yet, praise God, we remain different. 

This Christian identity, explained by St. Paul, is affirmed by the gospel.  When Jesus orders the disciples to “tell no-one” about their perceptions in terms of Jesus’ identity, an identity that is only comprehensible after he dies and rises, Jesus asserts that he himself is not defined or accessed by words.  Who I say that Jesus is matters little; my life, not my words, may make him and my convictions known.

It is never what is said, but what is done, that that truly converts and binds human beings. 

And at a deeper level, it is not even what Christians do but what they believe that matters most.  It is how we are “clothed”, so to speak. 

Every believer should ask herself:  Am I clothed by what I believe? 

Do I wear the salvation, the hope, the joy, the peace and the love of Jesus Christ –on my heart and for all to see? 

Because though we are different (difference being just one  grace God shares– life would surely be boring if all folks were the same), believers share the greatest gifts of all.  People of faith share the grace to reflect God for each other as well as the world.  We share the grace to be ourselves, and free at the same time.  We share the grace to create as God creates, to bond as we have been bonded.  In Christ we share the grace to love as we are loved. 

May we believe in this grace.  In our ever discerning quest to become who we truly are as Christians, may we not be discouraged or deterred by words –the expressed differences amoung us or within the world that God ever sees as good (Genesis 1:31)- but become united in faith, not to mention hope and love. 

Clothed by conviction and uniquely themselves, may all be one Jesus Christ!   

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Prophetic Compassion. (10th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Compassion is prophetic. 
This is something that I find perplexing and even at times discouraging. In our Christian tradition and the world in which we live compassion is not the norm, merciful love, it seems, is extraordinary. 
Whenever I witness instinctive kindness, someone who is is not inhibited by social taboos or rules but naturally gives, I am surprised. And I wonder even why Jesus’ actions were prophetic?
While wrestling with these things I, just last night, stumbled upon a facebook status that read thus: 

"When we look past race, religion and creed to see others just like ourselves -- others who seek love and compassion -- differences that were once monumental collapse."
And that, apparently, was from a 17 year old highschool student. So beware, prophetic voices are everywhere and anywhere.  I considered lying about the author and attributing this to somebody famous (ie. Nelson Mandela) but…
Anyway, speaking of prophetic voices, Pope Francis, in his Sunday reflection described compassion as “merciful love”.  Compassion, he said, “is the attitude of God in contact with human misery, with our poverty, with our suffering, and with our grief.”  
Compassion is an attitude!
In these two quotes, or ideas, I think we find what is expressed by the gospel and the readings for today – and it is all about attitude. 
Not only is God none-prejudiced, free to react mercifully to human pain, suffering, and grief, restoring life to the child of Elijah and his Mistress, God can take a murderous and legalistic soul like Paul, a persecutor of Christians, and draw out the goodness and beauty that is there – compassionately transforming even an enemy into a prophet of love.
The message there is that if I can consider myself in the experience of somebody I detest, and exercise compassion to towards him, I am truly prophetic.
Compassion, according to the gospels, is always prophetic. 
When Jesus responds to a grieving woman, a widow, in the same manner that God responds to request of Elijah, the crowds are stunned.  When Jesus restores life, witnesses are afraid.  What does this mean for us, do they wonder?  Well it means the same for them, as it means for others, and it means the same for you and myself. 
God’s merciful love knows no limits. God loves everyone, even those whom you and I despise.  And, remarkably, God loves you and I as well. 
All of us, we are the poor, sometimes the miserable, the grieving, we are the needy who seek compassion and love.  And from God we, in stunning ways, receive it. 
And so might we be transformed by what we recieve. Like St. Paul, and like the woman in the gospel, might we share what God gives.  May merciful love change our attitudes toward others.  Might we become what we desire.  May we look past differences, and prophetically react with compassion and love to each other, and to all.