Deacon Blog June 30, 2019
Faith that works
There are several “mile-markers” of Christianity that must be experienced before we can truly say we have allowed Christ into our lives. I apologize for sounding so “fundamental” here but over this past Lent and Easter seasons, I became acutely aware that so many of my Christian friends do not (at least outwardly) appear to be experiencing the Peace meant for us as GOD’s children… as GOD’s creation. While I would absolutely acknowledge that the world we live in is experiencing some challenging times, I feel it is equally important that we recognize, and remind ourselves often, that the world has experienced dark periods for … at least as long as humans have been recording their lives. Traumatic events such as war, persecutions, plagues, natural disasters, political conflicts, as well as personal tragedies like sexual abuse, slavery, human exploitation, and abortion have all provided a cruel and seemingly never-ending litany of devastating human experiences. If you ever have the opportunity to speak with young people about the crucifixion, these world events form the backdrop for explaining why Jesus had to suffer the treatment HE received. If you are going to share in the life of humanity, and expose yourself to the experiences of mankind, HIS LIFE had to be sacrificed in a single event that summed up our lives. Maybe not my life, or yours, but the total human condition. Sorry, I detoured a bit. The life of Christ is an easily demonstrable fact from a historical perspective. Thousands of documents (secular and Church) exist to prove Jesus lived. The meaning of this LIFE is the real debate that takes place between believers and non-believers. But just as Americans can fail to behave as real Americans should, the same is true of Christians. John’s Gospel 13:35 says “By this all men shall know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”. Please note that Jesus did not qualify HIS statement by saying “unless… others are cruel to you”. Our Savior deliberately removed any room to “rationalize” the choice of whom and when we should love others. As I stated above, devastating events have escorted us through time from the beginning. Think for a moment of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the presence of GOD. They were cast out of the “perfect” life (emotionally and physically) and sent wandering alone into a world of confusion and conflict. Imagine the “Chosen Ones” of GOD taken into captivity in Babylon, or dispersed to foreign lands multiple times. Skip through the history books and read accounts of Christian persecutions for centuries (including current times), multiple plagues, wars that never seem to end, political and ecclesial upheavals (revolution, reformation, abuse scandals), and holocausts even seen today in the act of abortion. I don’t recall these activities to depress, but to contextualize the real and actual need to explore and find the true heart of GOD available to us all. Jesus said that “the poor will always be with you” (John 12:8), which is another way of saying that sadness and despair is part of our lives. A part we create. What can also be part of our lives is the real and lasting Peace and Joy left to us by the ONE who redeemed us from temporal “sadness and despair” and replaced it with a spiritual hope of eternal Happiness, lived in the presence of LOVE.
Cont. on back
I do understand the sadness. I’ve experienced my share (and most likely am not done), but I am learning to balance and soothe my sadness with Joy. Joy in knowing that the “good-guys” win in the end, that no suffering is in vain (even when I do not understand it), and real Happiness is what I was created for… WE are created for. Sadness, for me, is a by-product of compassion for others. How can I give this up?
In the end, it isn’t about whether Jesus lived (that’s empirical knowledge), or if what HE said is true (that’s experiential). It is all about whether our hearts have been authentically opened to receive truth in the form of real Faith. Faith that GOD loved us into existence, Faith that love saves us from death (if we choose), and Faith that JOY and PEACE are gifts from a Creator that transform this life from emptiness to fulfillment, aimless wandering into a purposeful journey. In other words, Faith can become the “reason for being” … the meaning for our time on earth. Many of my Christian friends are either perpetually “gloomy” about life or focused on an “end times” scenario. While I can acknowledge current affairs can create a sense of despair, I also feel that all these events “high-light” the necessity for the Peace of Christ to reign in our hearts lest we forget who is “in-charge” and fully capable of real mitigation … unlike the rest of us. All we can do is our “part” in the on-going experience of human life. Does this translate into ignoring world problems? No. Does this mean that we need not be concerned with our environment? Definitely NOT. Putting it simply, we are to educate ourselves, through Scripture and Sacred teaching, what is important and what is not. According to our gifts we are to engage in life (through prayer) acting to the impulse of the Holy Spirit, leaving the results to a “higher pay grade”. This is not to say “ignorance is bliss”, only that the picture is much larger than we are able to comprehend. We are each designed to be a part of the body, not the whole thing. Our Faith in this process, collectively, is designed to make the world better, as in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. Our world, on the other hand, seems bent on self-preservation and individual aspiration. We live in a time of “me”. Religion, it seems, has become the “whipping boy” for the “Nones”, or non-affiliated. Understandably, human behavior is used as the reason for this current group of “believers”. Spiritual but not religious. I get this … if the doctrine and behavior were in concert together. But we all know they are not, and the actions of some should never distract from the true expression of Faith contained in Church teaching. If this were true, every establishment on earth (including the United States of America) should be abolished or ignored because of human frailty. The same can be said of the institutions of medicine, charity, law enforcement, and education. Anarchy should replace them, for it is the only discipline without expectation. Instead, we should fight for our beliefs and battle to retain (or regain) the values we know to be true.
Every political effort known to mankind has been tried at some point (except Peace), to no success. We have tried monarchies, military rule, episcopal rule, communism and socialism, democracy, and republics and still have not created a world just and equal for all. If they involve humanity they will stumble or fail completely. A simple reason for this is that “WE” did not create the world. We are the created so the design (given to us in Scripture) is ours to conform to or reject, our choice. It’s time Believers start to truly believe, and to work for the purposes of Heaven we were all created for. Begin by prayerfully reading The Letter of James (4 pgs). Prepare yourself each Sunday for receiving the Eucharist. This is the beginning of Faith. See if your existence isn’t changed and transformed into a world of PEACE and JOY.
PAX CHRISTI, Deacon Mike
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