To the world you are just one person … but no one person you can be to the world
Until recently, today’s readings spoke to me about the need for us to keep the faith in difficult times and not lose our faith, even if we lose everything else. It would be easy to presume our Responsorial Psalm today meant to keep us physically safe – like someone hiding in room while terrorists are shooting everywhere: “Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope”.
My previous feelings are still valid, but I realise they are missing the mark: we are not called to just hide during the trouble to come, and hope for the best: but to be a candle in the darkness.
We are called to be part of the solution. The image of St Michael in the 1st Reading can fuel an expectation that God is going to come and fight all our battles for us. However, it’s better to say, God will come and fight with us to help us overcome the evil that confronts us.
This is revealed many times in the Old Testament where the Israelites still had to fight, but were victorious because of God’s presence. They always failed, however, when they stopped following God’s Laws: cheating, ignoring the widow, orphan and stranger.
The second Reading reminds us that, sometimes, we have to be willing to die fighting for justice and goodness for all. Just as Christ died for us, so that we might have life, so some of us might also be called to do the same.
In Commonwealth countries, on 11th November, we celebrated Remembrance Day. It marks the day World War One ended: at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. It is a very solemn reminder of the sacrifice of so many – mainly young people – who gave their lives to defend freedom and peace in our world. Unfortunately peace did not last for long.
This is why Jesus gives us the parable about the fig tree: “as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near”. Its purpose is to remind us to be alert to what is happening in our society, and try to avoid “war” by changing our behaviour. When we “fight” to avoid war, then this is the time God comes to help us: image of St Michael.
As the family is the basic and most important part of our society. This is especially important for husbands and wives: to recognise when their relationship is not heading in a good direction and do something positive to allow joy and peace to return. If we wait too long, then it’s often impossible to rescue the marriage.
In the late 1700’s, the French Revolution took place, largely because the majority of poor people were neglected, while the few rich people were comfortable: the rich were shocked when the poor people attacked them.
What is happening in our society, today, that should speak to us like the fig tree? Could it be the rising levels of violence among young people?
Could it be the rising number of families breaking apart and the suffering that this causes for the parents and children, as well as the wider society?
Could it be the deepening dissatisfaction with our Church? The attempts to discredit it? So, how do we respond? Do we just give up? Do we agree with “them” and hope for the best while I just try to live my life as usual?
Or do “I” do something about it? I believe this is our call as Christians. We don’t have to solve all the problems at once although, at times, our small actions are recognised far and wide.
God invites us to help those near to us: if we are a teacher, do we identify and help the children suffering loneliness, abuse or neglect, or struggling with learning?
If I’m a neighbour, and I see the children next door getting abused, do I speak up? As a citizen, how do I vote: thinking about my immediate benefits, or what’s best for society?
As a student at University, if I’m “forced” to sign the attendance register for a teacher who is absent, do I speak up or keep quiet and allow poor student learning to continue?
As a parishioner, when I see the priest misbehaving, or acting in a rude and arrogant manner, do I keep quiet or do I say something? Here it is good to discuss with the Catechist or Parish Executive to avoid personal conflict with the priest.
I am greatly saddened when people leave the Church because of bad behaviour by the Clergy. The Church belongs to all of it’s members, and the Clergy are servants of the people. Please, stand up for your Church, so that many more people can be assisted by the Church.
Please pray for myself and other priests & Religious to be better role models and examples: to be true signs of hope, of God’s kindness and mercy, without demanding payment.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI