There are some words from THIS SUNDAY'S FIRST READING [ACTS 4: 32 - 35] which should arrest our attention - not only because of their importance, but because they also...
Am I sufficiently active as a Christian and Catholic – and recognised as such? Am I a Christian Activist? I am not suggesting a ‘conversion’ to a ‘bible-thumping-scriptural- texts-quoting’ intrusion into the lives of others.
So, let us make
THIS SUNDAY’S SECOND READING [1 JOHN 5: 1 – 7] our primary focus, and reflect on the challenge to OVERCOME difficult trials, situations, quarrels, conflicts and tensions. The folk song We Shall Overcome must always remain the Christian’s clarion call.
never find the mission entirely overwhelming. They soldier on in the face of all burdens and obstacles. The second reading tells that “his commandments are not burdensome for whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God …. and the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is truth.”
Notice that the word overcomes appears three times within a few verses. Your attention is also drawn to two other words: faith and witness. The Christian is always a person of faith and truth, whose witness is given through activism. True Christian Activism is always ‘of the Spirit’.
Now let us reflect on the matter of overcoming the world. First of all it is suggested that we understand this phrase as challenging each one of us to
TRANSFORM the world in which we actually live. For the moment, forget about marching down the main street of your town or city. Let us start by transforming ourselves, our homes, families, friends, work places and professional encounters. When I speak about transforming I mean lifting our immediate, local, and day-to-day situations, trials, tensions and difficulties to another level – a higher, more enlightened, and less stressful one. We do this by being ACTIVISTS …. Christian activists.
So we commence transforming the situations in which we find ourselves by participating, in a dignified manner, in a way to recovery. However, our reading clearly indicates that a dignified participation must always include an activism firmly built on “his commandments” which are not felt by us as “burdensome.” If we take each of the Ten Commandments, one by one, honesty will indicate that not one of them is in any way outlandish. There IS something basically wrong and disruptive in blasphemy or the neglect of our elderly parents. Indeed, adultery, theft, murder, and unbridled covetousness (hoarding for ourselves) are disruptive and transform nothing to a higher level. They are, in fact, destructive …. and leave behind so many derelict homes, create so many deserts which have to be crossed by so many innocent men, women and children. The Christian activist believes that
“there are still big breakers which can crash on the shore, and there is still need for daring.”
It is not a question of a high-powered, overbearing, ‘sell’ of instant cures and remedies. Neither is it a matter of sweeping things under the carpet nor pretending that nothing is really wrong. Rather, it is a process of presenting a Christian alternative in a dignified manner which is made visible by our own lives.
Do not overlook
[today’s Gospel extract – JOHN 20: 19 – 31]how the Risen Lord transforms the tension, and disbelief of the disciples who were, because of fear, behind shut doors. Jesus was an activist whose mere presence made a difference. His greeting was peaceful, not confrontational, and he did not criticise the shut doors or question why. Neither did he berate Thomas for his lack of belief … he made a suggestion by inviting the apostle to do something, to try a different approach. There was no pressure! The Lord did not ‘push’ himself. He merely PRESENTED himself to them …. ‘hey, guys, I am still around!’
We forget this fact far too often.