More than going to Church/praying…being a Christian moves us to action
When people come to Mass and hear the readings of today, there might be a temptation among most of us – myself included – to think it applies to other people; after-all, you are trying hard and not committing many bad sins, right? 🙂
So, to wake us up, it’s helpful to reflect on a comment made by Ghandi many years ago: I think the Christian religion might be the best, and I would become one if I could find one. [adapted]
Christians sometimes get a little confused about what it means to follow Jesus/ God/ our faith. We can think that going to Church each week and saying our prayers is the main part. Then, we practice self-control, being polite, making donations and forgiving, as being good.
Don’t get me wrong, those things are important because they help know what to do, but perhaps can be compared to the entrée or starter food that people order before the main course at a restaurant. So, what is the “main meal” for Christians?
I doubt whether I can get it right, but I think it has a lot to do with challenging injustices in our society and trying to change them. Perhaps many of the Climate Change activists, and social justice activists would not say they are Christians, one can see a lot of Christianity in their actions – although some behaviours are distinctly not Christian.
While it’s true, and I’m very grateful, that many Christians respond to appeals by the Church for donations to help the poor, especially for natural disasters, war zones, poverty, etc.; I wonder how many of us are willing to be activists?
To be an activist does not mean, only, marching in the streets waving banners. Other ways include: writing letters, participating in discussions about issues with family, friends, colleagues and even strangers.
It is said that every society is guilty of CORPORATE SIN. These are sins against people in our society caused by the culture, the financial system, the labour (work) system, etc. We don’t deliberately hurt others; we don’t directly hurt others; but by our participation in our society we are “guilty” by association – guilty by membership: the Government “are us”.
It’s very difficult to challenge people in power = fear of reprisals.
It’s very difficult to challenge family members, or work colleagues = fear of rejection.
But, often, could it be because we are tired; we are busy; and we are comfortable?
How can we overcome these fears, and our built-in desire to “take it easy”? After some reflection, I believe following steps might help:
1. Develop a healthy fear of the future: what kind of a world do we want for our children?
Parents sacrifice many things to help their children succeed. But it will all be wasted if our children die of strange diseases, or from the escalating community violence tomorrow.
2. Continue to strengthen our feelings of compassion and empathy: get angry.
Allow ourselves to be touched by the struggles of people around us: this will give us energy to try and challenge injustice: for people with disabilities; low wages; access to services, etc.;
3. Take time to reflect: do I pay proper taxes? Do I minimise waste and do recycling?
If we are going to see a change in the injustices around us, we must be part of the solution, not just blaming others and talking, talking, talking;
4. What community issue worries me? Can I do something small to make a difference?
When we sit at home and worry, we can make ourselves depressed; but when we make an effort to make a change, even a small effort, we feel more liberated and happy;
Heaven begins here. What we do, or don’t do, will affect the happiness and well-being of ourselves and our children, both today and tomorrow. Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you.’
This is not just a future statement for after death, but a present reality. Is it not true that some of the people we “look down upon” surprise us by their kindness and Christ-like behaviour?
When we are tempted to generalise about protestors and activists, perhaps we should pause and reflect on the positive things they are doing.
I recall in recent days a street artist, from London, organised a boat to rescue migrants abandoned in the ocean near Italy. One man, making a difference for many. What about us? Are we making a difference to someone outside of our family/ local church?
By looking outwards from ourselves & trying to do something: depression & worry disappear. I pray you have a blessed week, helping those that we can, and giving people a second chance.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI