HOW ARE WE RECOGNISED?
We recognize police officers, members of the armed services, lifesavers when they are on duty by their distinctive clothing. We recognize people from another country by hearing them speak another language. We recognize people to whom we are close through our sense of smell, as babies know that it is their mother who holds them.
How people recognize us as people with faith, in full communion with the Catholic Church is an important question. When I was growing up, we Catholics stood out as being the ones who did not eat meat on Fridays and went to mass on Sundays. Even our friends who were not Catholics reminded us from time to time if we were about to bite into a hamburger or looked as if we were not going to go to mass when we were out with them on holidays.
Abstaining from meat on Fridays is no longer a universal penitential discipline apart from Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The Church leaves it to us to decide on some practice that will remind us every Friday that Jesus gave his life so that we could find a new way of living. That new life comes to us, when like Jesus, we decide to do the Father’s will and not our own. Celebrating our faith at the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is still the paramount public action we are called to each week but many will rather easily excuse themselves from this vital aid to deepening their faith and becoming more and more human in everything we say and do. A well founded and practised prayer and worship life surprisingly has a great flow on effect in how we live our ordinary lives.
Still, even if we practise some penitential act on Fridays and go to Mass on Sunday, what makes us recognizable at all other times? We don’t wear distinctive clothes. We don’t speak another language. We don’t wear a particular Catholic perfume or aftershave. Are we just part of the crowd?
Yes and no. We are definitely part of the crowd, the mass of humanity. We share much in common with everybody else as we live our lives. We face common challenges on personal, family and social levels. But our response to life and its challenges has a qualitative difference because of our faith.
At the last supper Jesus left a living will. What he gave his friends was not money or possessions but a commandment. He said: “love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another.” He knew that everything else could be lost or wasted away but if people decided to do so, then they could seek the welfare of everyone they met, they could love them, regardless of what that person thought of them personally. In particular this frame of mind adopted freely by people who wanted to be like him applied to those with whom they shared faith. This is what makes us distinctive. Jesus said: “By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”
|Apr 26, 2013||Fifth Sunday of Easter||Listen||Download|