“Your life is your theology and your sermon. Don’t preach the good news but be the good news… Preach as you go! Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” St Francis of Assisi
In October 2020 Pam and I vacationed in Spain and Italy, praying with St Teresa of Avila and St Francis of Assisi. One thing is common to both mystics, each of them lived the message of Jesus. Although both were indeed theologically brilliant, it was their Jesus-like actions that persuaded others to join them. Humility, poverty, and love were their hallmarks.
Belief is Not Enough
As church attendance and attention to God wanes in our contemporary culture, I believe that it is not due to a failure to “preach the Word.” After the Enlightenment and Age of Reason, Christianity seems to have drifted into the zone of “believing” and “proving” without an equal emphasis on “being” and “doing.”
More than forty years ago I read a couple books of the Bible (the Gospel of St John and the Acts of the Apostles) with the intent disproving (to a girlfriend) the notion that Jesus was the God-man and that he was worthy of my devotion. Obviously, I failed to disprove anything.
I think it is important to note that it was not so much the preaching of Jesus that drew me to his truth, but it was his behaviors. He cared for people. His target audience were not the elites, but the poor and the disenfranchised. His people were either outcasts or very ordinary. Jesus was an inordinately ordinary man who just happened to also be the Son of God.
Okay. Okay. I am sure most readers already know what I am trying to say. So, what does this have to do with my second post of the new year?
Partaking in the Divine Nature
In his second letter, St Peter writes that God has granted us “precious and magnificent promises” that we might “partake in the divine nature.” I once sat under the teaching of a Benedictine monk who told me that, in essence, God was inviting me to be like a 4th member of the Trinity. Relationship with the divine can be that intimate.
I intend to take this message ever more seriously in 2022. “Partaking in the divine nature” assumes at least two essential attributes. The first is that I have an opportunity to enter a magnificent relationship with God that Jesus defines as “oneness” with the Holy.
The second attribute is that my “oneness” with God must absolutely be reflected in the way I treat other people. My hope is that when friends (and strangers) think of me they think of kindness, understanding, and empathy. A part of me fully identifies with those qualities and, unfortunately, another part of me is quite the opposite.
Face to Face with the Human Condition
Tis a battle we all must deal with, no matter our faith tradition. It is the battle of being human. And so I enter the fray. I accept the battle. May I be known for my actions… not my allegiances. And, may my actions reflect those of the God-man, Jesus, the Christ. In doing that, my life will preach the Good News.
When Belief is Not Enough
Try a Little Kindness
Photo courtesy of camaralenta at istockphoto