Love for others, and in the first place, love for the poor, in whom the Church sees Christ himself, is made concrete in the promotion of justice.”
–Pope St John Paul II
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee
By Leela Ramdeen
Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
Do we really understand what it means to take up our cross and follow Jesus? In today’s gospel, Matt 16:21–27, Jesus said to His disciples: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
The Holy Father rightly states that “The temptation always, also today, is to want to follow a Christ without the cross…Jesus reminds us that His way is the way of love, and there is no true love without the sacrifice of oneself. We are called not to allow ourselves to be absorbed by the vision of this world, but to be ever more aware of the need and effort for us Christians to walk counter-current and uphill…
“To spend one’s talents, one’s energies and one’s time only to save, protect and fulfil oneself leads in reality to lose oneself, that is, to a sad and sterile existence. If, instead, we live for the Lord and we organize our life on love, as Jesus did, we will be able to savour genuine joy, and our life won’t be sterile, it will be fruitful.
“In the celebration of the Eucharist we relive the mystery of the cross…Every time we take part in Holy Mass, the Love of the crucified and risen Christ is communicated to us as food and drink, so that we can follow Him on the way every day, in the concrete service of brothers and sisters.”
We cannot serve if our hearts are full of mistrust/hate for our brother and sister. We cannot walk counter-current and uphill if the values that underpin our lives are not Christian values.
God created us to live in harmony with each other and with all Creation. We must not let hate and discord rip us apart. Let’s move beyond tribalism, racism, xenophobia which foster negativity; and promote instead right relationships.
Pope Francis reminds us that God inscribed “the Golden Rule in human nature created in Christ: the rule that love alone gives meaning and happiness to life.” However, as we know, we have just gone through a bruising election campaign which has highlighted how far removed many of us are from living the Golden Rule.
The words in today’s gospel remind us what it means to be a Christian, to be a follower of Christ. Matthew tells us that on judgement day, each of us will be rewarded according to our behaviour.
Remember, racism is incompatible with God’s design. Take some time today to reflect on your thoughts, words, and actions before, during and after the election campaign.
Were they such that they could promote mutual-respect, human dignity, community, the common good? Or did partisan politics influence you in such a way that love of neighbour flew out of the window?
It is time for us to play our part to heal the nation. I invite you to participate in the following free event. Prof Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, Dean, Faculty of Law, UWI, St Augustine Campus, and CCSJ are organising a FREE virtual National Symposium today, Sunday, August 30, from 1 p.m. on the theme:
A time for healing – Understanding and Reconciling Race Relations in Trinidad and Tobago.
I will be the moderator of the event, which will be streamed live on the UWI St Augustine Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/UWISTA/). Please join us. Representatives from various faith communities will open the symposium with prayers.
There will also be input from youths.
We will celebrate the 58th anniversary of T&T’s independence, Monday, August 31. As we celebrate our achievements, let’s pray for healing; for the times when we failed to be our best selves.
As poet Maza Dohta says: “Healing is an art. It takes time, it takes practice, it takes love.”
Happy Independence Day! May God bless our Nation.