Summary: We need to be aware to whom we are giving our lives.
Third Sunday of Easter - Year C
April 22nd, 2007
* Rev. 1:9 - 11a, 12-13, 17-19
* Jn. 20:19-31
Whom Do We Serve?
God Or Humans?
In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear Peter saying these words: "We must obey God rather than any human authority". If we believe in God, it is hard to argue with that statement. If we were caught in a situation where the choice was between obeying God or obeying some man or woman, we would know what choice we would have to make. Perhaps we would not make the right choice, but, at least, we would know what the right choice was.
And yet, at times, we find ourselves in situations where we are asked to choose between the things of God and the things of our culture. And when we make the choice for the things of our culture, we are, in a very real way, obeying humans instead of obeying God. This kind of thing happens when we unconsciously accept the standards of our human societies as being more important than the standards of God.
Buried By The World
Do you shiver at the scary thought of being buried alive? But at times we are buried and we don’t know it. We are buried beneath the world’s standards and opinions. Are we losing the ability to see life from a deeply Christian perspective? We obey our culture rather than God by blindly accepting everything that our culture says is okay. Our task is to continually question what surrounds us. Embracing everything that comes our way is not a good or holy way to live. Some problems that work against living life as we should are socially accepted greed, a private morality, and isolation from the community.
If we never question how we use the financial and natural resources that we have, then there is a good chance we are simply being buried by the culture around us. As individuals and as communities, we need to be consciously aware how we are using our resources. We don’t have a right to use what we have only for our own comfort and convenience, while others go without the basic necessities of life. What’s called for is a change in our awareness.
As we become more aware of how we are using resources, and, at the same time, become more aware of the needs of others, then hopefully we will arise from our sleepwalking. We will see that our decisions to buy this, build that, support this cause or not support that cause, all have implications in the lives of many, many people. As people of the Resurrection we need to help others rise from a life that is buried in poverty or illness or ignorance.
At the Synod of America in 1997, the Canadian bishops reflected on how the Catholic Church in Canada had very much grown up inside of immigrant communities and how it had flourished there. This is what they said: "In Canada we know how to be Catholic when we are poor, under-educated, and culturally marginalized, but we don’t yet know how to be Catholic when we are affluent, educated, and culturally mainstream. These things are new to us and we have still to find our way within them."
In The World, Not Of The World
And it is true that, by and large, we have become culturally mainstream. Catholics are no longer on the edge of society. We are able to hold the highest places in society. Our faith is not an obstacle in terms of moving up the ladder of success, as it once was, many years ago. But now, we must discover how to live within the heart of our society, yet still live as followers of the Risen Christ.
Socially accepted greed, private morality and isolation from the community are problems we need to face head on if we are to remain true followers of Jesus. Jesus founded a community, and we need to live as a community if we are to remain faithful to our calling. This means that we cannot foster a private morality or remain isolated from the community. Simply put, a private morality is one in which decisions are made without reference to the wider community.
For example, what if you owned a small company that built some product, but then discovered that you could have that product built somewhere else at a cheaper cost. Would it be the right thing to simply fire your employees so that you could make more of a profit by having your product built in another country? Some people wouldn’t think twice about it. Isn’t profit the most important thing, after all? It is this kind of question, among a thousand others, that we have to take seriously if we are to remain faithful to being sensitive to the needs of others. It would be a good exercise for each of us to see how our decisions affect others.