Monday, February 18, 2013
I will adopt you as my people..
The question I used to hear from Evangelicals, "Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour," baffled me at first. What a novel thing, I thought. My experience as a cradle Catholoc had always been more wholesale than personal: a family, a parish, the Church in the country, the whole Church throughout the world, and that through all time all the way back to Adam and Eve. Why personal? It dawned on me many, many years later that taking the personal view is no bad thing. One could miss the trees for the forest, although one might also miss the forest for the trees. Being Catholic, I cannot help but see the both-and approach as being more complete: Kata Holikos. The Old Testament scriptures are fairly explicit on God's relationship with his people as the overarching theme of revelation, and looks ahead to including all nations beyond Israel as his people. Even the New Testament is reasonably clear as well: the Greeks being the people beyond Judaism. Does that mean we lose the personal context? Not at all, because God cannot be limited thus. He is both a personal God who is also the Father of an entire people set apart in Christ. This dovetails with the command to love one another, because God is always in one another through Christ, so loving one another means loving Christ, who is God. This also makes sense of the harsh judgement against sins of omission: the goats in Matt 25:31-46 failed to love Christ in the flesh of his people, our neighbor. Sadly, it may be that most of us sin thus: in the good that we fail to do. In an increasingly busy world of empty distractions, who's got time for loving our neighbor? The only solution seems to be to throw out all these vain pursuits. Thank God for the annual season of Lent, to renounce ourselves and the futility of our toys and games, our pursuit of the next feast in every meal, to make room for God in our personal space. Then we might see better that we belong to the people of God, among which many go hungry, thirsty, lonely in prison or illness, or naked in abject want.