It might look like Jesus is not the Messiah
In his new book “MetaChurch: How to Use Digital Ministry to Reach People and Make Disciples” Pastor Dave Adamson shares a conversation he had with his good friend from New Jersey, Rabbi Lubin. He once asked him a question, probably “politically incorrect” but as a friend so appropriate, “Why don’t you believe Jesus was the Messiah?” The Rabbi answered straight to the point, “I believe Jesus was a great rabbi; but I cannot accept Jesus as Messiah because his followers have done so many destructive things in his name. Jews judge a rabbi based on the behavior of their followers. The behavior of the disciple reflects the authority of the rabbi.”
Ouch… That’s a bold statement! Even though, as a first reaction, we would be tempted to defend our beliefs, rather than see it as a call to examination of conscience and renewal of our discipleship of Christ. When we are honest, sometimes the words, behaviors and actions of some Christians might send the message: “It might look like Jesus is not the Messiah”. It is a call to conversion, a call to the initial mission entrusted to us by Christ, as we read in the Gospel this weekend, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) If we have love for one another, it shows in our day to day witness though words, deeds and action. It’s proof that Jesus is the Messiah!
After a few months in St. Patrick parish in Hamilton, ON, we invited a selected group of parishioners to help us discern a mission and vision statement for our faith community. The group included members from different backgrounds, ages and experiences of the parish life. However, all of them entered this exercise with a sincere love for the parish and openness to seek God’s call. It was extensive time of reflection and prayer, open conversation and listening for the Spirit. We based our discernment on the book “Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter” by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran. We crafted a meaningful and purposeful Mission Statement, to which we continue to refer to in decision making and setting particular strategies for the parish. We also sought for a motto that will be one sentence “rally cry” in our ministry. An inspiration came from the inscription written on the beam above the sanctuary, “Dilexit nos et tradidit semetipsum” meaning “Christ loves us and gave himself up for us” Eph 5:2
“Love Others as Christ Loves You!” became the motto and guiding light in our ministry. Out of that love we focus on hospitality and welcome to all; where everybody feels at home. Out of that love we extended our ministry beyond the walls to the streets of the inner-city. Out of that love De Mazenod Door Outreach provides food, medical and social assistance, housing and sense of community to the poor, working with and for the homeless and marginalized of our community. We might be not perfect, as individuals and community, but at least we strive to witness that Jesus is the Messiah after all.
The question remains, “How do I personally witness to my faith in Christ?” Jesus didn’t say that people will recognize that we are his disciples by intensity of prayers, the thickness of the incense in the place of worship, the religious symbols we wear or “wisdom” of words we would say. Love is the only proof! “Love Others as Christ Loves You!” By doing so, we might convince Rabbi Lubin and others that Jesus is the Messiah! “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
By Jarek Pachocki, OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada – Vocation Director