Let’s be warriors of the truth
Some thoughts on the readings for the Eucharist on the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time in Year C. The readings are: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23; Psalm 90:3-6, 12-13, 14, 1; Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11; and St Luke 12:13-21.
Faith in Christ has consequences
I regularly hear from friends who are not Christian that they think Christianity is nothing but an empty list of dos and don’ts. They seem to believe these lists come from an irrational thirst for power and domination and that the standards we seek to uphold limit personal freedom. Christians know this to be untrue.
St Paul explains the real reason behind the moral teaching of Christianity in the Second Reading at the Eucharist today. Because Christians have come to know and believe in Christ, they strive to live according to a demanding moral standard. Having experienced His love, power, goodness, and grace, we want to emulate Him.
By knowing Him, we know what the universe looks like. Without Him, without Christ, human life is meaningless. It is like chasing after the wind, “vanity of vanities”, as we read in the First Reading today. Without Christ, everything we do here on earth would end when we die. There would be no lasting value. It would be like the mark your toe leaves in the water when you dip it in the sea at the beach.
Jesus came to earth. He suffered and died for our sins. He rose from the dead. And He ascended back into heaven to give us a chance at a lasting value. Our lives are now plugged into eternity through faith in Christ, “hidden with God”, as St Paul puts it.
Everything we do is linked to salvation history. Before Christ, we were shipwrecked on a desert island with no escape, dying. Life was vanity. But Christ came to rescue us. As long as we cling to the wood of His Cross, we can rest assured that He will bring us home to his glorious, everlasting Kingdom. That is why we should strive to avoid anything that would separate us from Christ. We should avoid anything that could break our friendship with Him by violating His command to love God and love our neighbour. I hope that the Anglican bishops meeting at the Lambeth Conference remember these two commandments of the Lord. Love God. Love your neighbour.
Our faith in Christ has consequences for our life. If we let it, it gives us a friendship that will last into eternity.
Oil and water, darkness and light, the Penitential Rite
Soldiers who jump out of aeroplanes wear a parachute because if they do not, the laws of physics will cause them some damage. They do not argue with it. They adjust their behaviour to deal with it.
Our lives should be similar. If we want to stay spiritually healthy, we must adjust our behaviour according to the moral law God built into the universe. We have to follow the commandments and the example of Christ. Selfishness and sin go against that moral law. They separate us from a healthy relationship with Christ. Oil and water do not mix, no matter how hard we try. Darkness and light do not mix, no matter how hard we try. Friendship with Christ—and the happiness that comes with it—cannot grow if sin is poisoning the soil of our souls. We have to repent. We have to use a parachute.
That is one reason why every Eucharist begins with a penitential rite. After the greeting, we call to mind our sins, ask God for His forgiveness, and implore His mercy. This is our parachute. This is when we turn away from everything in our lives that damages our friendship with Christ.
Only then can our minds be open to hear God’s word in the readings and the homily and to receive His strength in Holy Communion.
Our faith in Christ has consequences for our life.
Being warriors of the Truth
When St Paul makes his list of sins that put our friendship with Christ in danger, he focuses on one in particular: self-centeredness. He is saying that we need to pay special attention to it. He writes: “Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with all its practices.” We are reminded that lying, deceiving, and manipulating the truth are sins. They unravel God’s plan for human society and endanger our friendship with Christ.
God, the author of all truth, has given us the capacity to know and communicate the truth to build healthy relationships. When we abuse this gift, obscuring the truth for our own selfish reasons, we make ourselves enemies of God and friends of the Devil, whom Jesus called “the father of lies”.
And at times, every one of us does it. We have learned our communication skills partly from a media culture. A culture full of expert spin doctors who do not hesitate to put a questionable spin on what they say or don’t say to further their agenda. Advertisers do it, reporters do it, screenwriters do it, and sometimes, we do it. We spin the reports we make at work or school, the explanations we give to our spouses, and the permissions we seek from our parents or superiors.
So much spin is going around that many people have become permanently dizzy. They have concluded that truth doesn’t even exist.
Jesus does not want us to go through life being dizzy. He wants us to see clearly so we can love deeply and truly.
Today, let us renew our friendship with Christ. With the strength he gives us in Holy Communion, let us confidently embrace the consequences of that friendship once again. Let us not be mercenaries of spin but warriors of the Truth.