June 22, 2021

Who do people say I am?

first_img Tweet 332 Views   one comment Share Share FaithLifestyle Who do people say I am? by: – September 15, 2012center_img Share Sharing is caring! Jesus raised this question when it was still unclear what his contemporaries were making of him. From the answers the disciples gave, it’s clear that there was no unanimity among the people about who he was. We, however, couldn’t give those same answers today. It couldn’t possibly occur to us, for example, to confuse Jesus with John the Baptist.The issues for us are different. ‘Who do people say I am’ does not make us think principally about his identity. We are concerned with other things. Many people today, for instance, say regarding Jesus that that they can worship him in private without going to Church. In one sense, the sentiment is perfectly in order. The day is coming, Jesus said in John’s gospel, when believers will worship the Father “not on any hill or mountain,” but will worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” And that, of course, you can do anywhere, including the confines of your own room.And yet, faith has a necessary public dimension. It involves not just private but also public witness, and this has been the case since the beginning of Christianity. In the Acts of the Apostles, the early followers of Jesus, many of whom had actually seen him, or had had, we must assume, some actual encounter with him, used to gather in homes for prayer and the breaking of bread. Later history also shows that Christianity has never entailed purely private witness. Even in periods of great prosecution, when Christians could have easily and understandably taken refuge in privacy, they often chose instead the dangerous course under the threat of death of secretly meeting in different houses for the Eucharist. They deliberately chose this way to give public testimony to their faith, and keep the memory of Jesus alive. It was so under the Communists in Russia and China, and in Ireland in the time of persecution by the British.We have no such choices to make; we face no such fear-inducing circumstances or conditions. Why then do we make such a boast of the claims of privacy? One remark you often hear regarding Church attendance today is that services are boring. Sometimes they are, of course. A deaf and dumb person knows and sees that. But this is something that afflicts not only Church services. For many people today work is boring, marriage is boring, life on the whole is boring.How do we deal with that? There are different kinds of boredom in life, and ways of dealing with them that are also different. If you’re watching a TV program at night, for instance, and you find it boring, you can use your remote to switch to something else. If you find this sermon boring, you have the consolation of knowing that I can’t go on forever; I must stop at some point. If you’re in a cinema and you find the movie boring, you can just get up and leave. But if you find your life as a whole boring, what do you do? Clearly the remedy will not be as easy as flicking a remote or getting up and going somewhere else. You will need a response of greater complexity. What do we do about boring Church services? One important thing we can’t do is leave our liturgies to chance. In other words, we must plan our celebrations; we must sing things that are accessible and appropriate; preach sermons that speak to people’s needs; and – and this I where you come in – we have to cultivate prayer on our own. Good services depend significantly on the prayer life we bring to them. We have to come, in other words, with something in order to find something.This doesn’t take care of everything. These are difficult times for religion. There’s no easy way round that. It’s a time that calls for special discipline. We have to accustom ourselves to praying in season and out of season, when the mood is upon us and when it isn’t. We have to learn not to depend so much on external stimuli and draw on our own internal resources of resilience. I wish I could propose easier ways of dealing with the issue, but I’m afraid – at least my conviction is that there’s really no easier way of doing so.By: Henry Charles PhDlast_img

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