In times of pain, suffering, shame, disappointment, distress, failure and any other of life’s difficult and stressful times and moments we would do well to keep TODAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING...
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 underline an emphasis placed last week about the call and challenge for us to become more prophetic through the proclamation we should make through our ordinary way of life and living.
In the middle of this Scripture we read:
The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, and they were all given great respect.
Here we should recognise that the result of their prophetic witness (their testifying) was the fact that they were so well regarded by others. Of course, if we take the reading as a whole, it should be obvious that their being held in high regard did not arise solely from what they said …. what was being DONE represented an integral part of the equation. Action is an essential element of the prophetic challenge.
Then, a reminder to all of us that the principal focus of the testifying was – Christ has died! Christ is Risen! Christ will come again!
We should notice that sections of last week’sPsalm are repeated THIS SUNDAY [PSALM 117 or 116]. In our context for this week, note the repetition of the words: “I shall live and recount his deeds.” The principal thrust of the liturgy in the Easter season is WITNESS. All witness is prophetic. All witness is a testimony.
It follows then, that this Season is THE time for us to evaluate our individual standing within the communities in which we live, work, pray and worship. Are we held in high regard? BUT, are we held in high regard for the right reasons? Yes, our verbal testimony IS important and has a specific value. Yet, our words must be matched by action. This, in itself, is an enormous challenge. Most of us (at least I hope so?!) regularly fail, in different and varying degrees, to match words with deeds. This fact MUST be an ongoing spur – not a reason to throw in the towel! All really good horses need the occasional jolt.
In my LENTEN READER, 2012, I referred to a character of Shakespeare who proclaimed that some have greatness thrust upon them. Well, all this week’s scripture extracts point to the fact that the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the action of God which thrusts the opportunity (or is it opportunities?!) of greatness upon each one of us. If we return to our Shakespearean character, we notice that he also made reference to the fact that some achieve greatness! Now, I want to emphasise that the opportunity (opportunities?!) to achieve the greatness which the Resurrection thrusts upon us, is to be found (sought?) within the ordinary routine of our lives.
The previous weekend to the day on which this reflection is being composed, I was preaching a Retreat in which the ordinariness of the sacred was emphasised. We miss so many opportunities to achieve the greatness which has been thrust upon us, because we underestimate the sacredness (value) of the ordinary. Every living person is born great … every living person has greatness thrust upon them … every living person is able to achieve greatness through the prophetic witness given by the ordinary living of their lives.
We must never sell ourselves short. There is far too much false humility around!
Take a look at TODAY’S GOSPEL [JOHN 20:19 – 31], and the SECOND READING [1 JOHN 5: 1 – 6].
What did Thomas, ultimately, accept? .… THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST. This acceptance was expressed very simply: “My Lord and my God.” No more and no less! This is what we need to accept, live, and proclaim – in the ordinary. Then, I often wonder whether, when writing his first Letter, John did not recollect this Gospel incident? He states, “whoever believes that JESUS IS THE CHRIST, has been begotten by God.” Whoever we might be ….
BE ORDINARY ….. BE GREAT … BE ORDINARY