Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday in the Church and being Church for the world

Each morning, at the end of the intercessions for Morning Prayer, I pray for a number of intentions. Among these intentions are prayers for the Church throughout the world, for the Holy Father, for our local Church, the Diocese of Salt Lake City, for our bishop, and for my parish and our pastor. It occurred to me that this morning's reading, taken from Ephesians, chapter four, verses twenty-nine through thirty-two, is apropos of this intention, giving it shape and form. I was particularly struck this morning by the positive exhortation in verse thirty-two: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

Dear friends, apart from actually living in the manner described, it doesn't get anymore concrete than what we read in this passage. So, let this serve as part one of the Καθολικός διάκονος lectio for this Friday. I will post a video later, but this post, of necessity, must precede it because I need to express what it really means to follow Jesus, at least as far as I understand it (which is far from comprehensively), before posting the video, which is about following a false god, and the all too real personal and societal consequences of so doing, not to mention the negative effects of bad Christian witness. It has often been observed that Christians are the best reason not to become a Christian. Sadly, I must plead guilty at times to being that kind of disciple, the kind about whom Mahtama Ghandi observed to missionary E. Stanley Jones, who mentioned that Ghandi frequently quoted Christ, "Oh, I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ". Of course, as a Hindu, Ghandi had no problem accepting Jesus as an avatar, which is not, at least in the first instance, "an Internet user's [virtual] representation of himself or herself".

In our current society the most devastating form this bad witness takes that makes Christianity so unattractive to so many is a mistaken notion of holiness as rule-keeping, instead of as loving perfectly. This bad witness is summed up beautifully by the Holy Father in Deus Caritas Est: "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (par. 1). Put simply, I do not want my intention in posting the video to be misunderstood. While I am on the subject of discipleship, I want to draw attention to something written by Michael, the internetmonk, on what it means to follow Jesus Christ. His post is entitled Dumb Up, Brother: A Spirituality of Ignorance

Anyway, I hope all of this gives us a good focus for Friday meditation as we abstain, fast, perform charitable works, or however we choose to observe this Friday, during which we remember that which made it possible for God to forgive us in Christ, His crucifixion.

On this Friday, I also want to draw attention to something over on Sharon's space that struck me as regards the Church. It is about one man's response to God's love, a love for which Son Jong Nam is willing to suffer to the laying down of his life in imitation of our Lord. Please pray for our brother.

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