By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
After the recent insurrection and assault on the Capitol, the seat of Democracy in the United States, I have been reading some of the articles in the media, including the UK Tablet, the International Catholic News weekly, about the role that Catholics have played in the hype that led to the events on January 6.
Read, for example, in last week’s issue—Ruth Gledhill’s article: ‘Cardinal Gregory – we should feel ‘violated’’; Christopher Lamb’s articles: ‘Truth and reconciliation – what the Catholic Church needs after Trump’; ‘Priest performed US ‘election exorcisms’’; Sebastian Milbank’s ‘Liberal challenge to Christians who back Trump’; and the Editorial in the National Catholic Reporter (January 7):‘Catholics need to confess their complicity in the failed coup’.
In order to put things in perspective, I urge you to reflect on today’s gospel: John 1:35–42. John the Baptist pointed out Jesus to two of his disciples as “the Lamb of God”.
The two disciples who were with John followed Jesus, who turned around and asked them: “What do you want?” They answered: “Rabbi, which means Teacher – ‘where do you live?’ ‘Come and see,’ he replied. So, they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day.”
Jesus is constantly knocking on the door of our heart asking: “What do you want?” Pope Francis, in referring to this gospel, says: “He whom we contemplated in the mystery of Christmas, we are now called to follow in daily life.” He explained that “only a personal encounter with Jesus generates a path of faith and of discipleship.”
In the gospel, Jesus invites John’s two disciples to come and see where He lives. Pope Francis says: “It is not enough to build for oneself an image of God based on what one has heard said; it’s necessary to go and seek the divine Master and to go where He dwells.”
A life of faith “consists in a desire to be with the Lord and, therefore, in a continuous search of the place where he dwells…To seek Jesus, to encounter Jesus, to follow Jesus, this is the way…”
Our new year resolution must be to follow Him; to stay where He dwells. Let’s revive the encounter with Jesus “in prayer, in meditation of the Word of God, and in frequenting the Sacraments, to be with Him and bear fruit, thanks to Him, to His help, and His grace” (Pope Francis).
As Catholics, our deepest desire should be to open our hearts to allow our Trinitarian God to dwell in our hearts. St Augustine of Hippo rightly said: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” And we read in Psalm 42:1:“Like a deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you my God.”
In my yearning, in my restlessness to know the will of God during my journey of faith, I constantly ask Him: “What do YOU want of me?” It is only by putting Him first in our lives that we will be able to discern our vocation.
And an integral part of our vocation must be to lead others to know and love the Lord, and to have compassion and mercy; to be advocates for the least among us. Evangelisation involves living/professing our faith in such a way that others will want to “come and see” what it means to be Catholic.
Given the disunity among Christians, let’s ask the Lord to allow us to “come and see” how we can build unity among the many Christian denominations. Pope Francis says ecumenism is a priority.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity traditionally takes place between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul. It commences tomorrow, January 18, and ends on January 25.
The World Council of Churches has shared on its website worship and background material for the Week. These were prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp, a monastic community that brings together sisters from different churches and various countries. The theme chosen for 2021, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”, is based on John 15:1–17 and expresses Grandchamp Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the Church and the human family.
The annual brochure is jointly prepared and published by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. Access the material here
In the prophetic tradition, the biblical understanding of justice found its highest expression in the way a community treats its weakest members. Amos (cf. 2:6–8; 8) and Isaiah (cf. 58), in particular, insistently demand justice for the poor, who, in their vulnerability and powerlessness, cry out and are heard by God, who watches over them (cf. Ps 34:7; 113:7–8). (3)
Pope Francis, World Day of Peace 2021
CCSJ Social Justice