Friday, March 22, 2013

“Faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.”

There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone's house. That says enough. -  Mother Teresa 

Gospel text (Jn 10,31-42): The Jews then picked up stones to throw at him; so Jesus said, «I have openly done many good works among you which the Father gave me to do. For which of these do you stone me?». The Jews answered, «We are not stoning you for doing a good work but for insulting God; you are only a man and you make yourself God». Then Jesus replied, «Is this not written in your Law: I said: you are gods? So those who received this word of God were called gods and the Scripture is always true. Then what should be said of the one anointed and sent into the world by the Father? Am I insulting God when I say: ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, do not believe me. But if I do them, even if you have no faith in me, believe because of the works I do, and know that the Father is in me and I in the Father». Again they tried to arrest him, but Jesus escaped from their hands. He went away again to the other side of the Jordan, to the place where John had baptized, and there he stayed. Many people came to him and said, «John showed no miraculous signs, but he spoke of this man and everything he said was true». And many became believers in that place.

Have you ever tried to describe the taste of something? I find this especially interesting when reading the descriptions of a wine tasting where a wine has “hints of pear, apple and traces of smokiness”. Descriptions like that just do not do the wine justice, if you ask me. You really need to take a sip and see if you like it for yourself.

Faith is the same way. The psalmist writes, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." The love of Christ operative in believing Christians allows those who walk in darkness to sample His light. Believe it or not, people we come across everyday can have a divine encounter with Jesus through us.

Today's postmodern world of moral and philosophical relativism leaves less room for a rational discussion regarding the Gospel. There is little regard for Holy Scripture and no real common ground on the issue of faith. It's now all about my own "personal peace and affluence."

To address this pervasive mindset ingrained in the culture, today's Catholic must be one of love in action. St. Francis of Assisi has been quoted as saying, "Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words." While this has been contested; that it is not actually from Francis, he certainly lived that way.

However, in his rule of 1221, he did tell his friars not to preach without first getting permission. He then went on to say, "Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds." (Chapter 17)

Jesus' s challenge for the people in the temple still echoes through the world today as we seek to make his message known in all the nations. If they won't believe our words, they will believe our works.

In the final analysis, the world does not need another lecture; it desperately needs a good example. The mistake many people make is, they try to live that example without God and His Church, which is impossible. We are only human, we are all weak, we are all sinners. Until we admit those realities to ourselves and rely on the Sacraments (Baptism, the Eucharist and Reconciliation) given to us from Jesus himself, our words will speak much louder than our actions. A very humble Franciscan priest once told me,” Your life’s example may be the only gospel your neighbor will ever read.”

So, as St Francis himself said, “Let all the brothers preach by their deeds.”

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