Former Adelaide YCS fulltimer, Catherine Whewell, who later worked as Director of People in Ministry and Chancellor, shared her reflections on “being Church” in a recent series of articles published in Catholic Outlook magazine.
Central to Christianity is belief in life after death; resurrection after apparent failure; letting go so that something new can be discovered, the seed that dies in the ground so new life can grow. Death. Brings. Life. These themes are often repeated in the Word we hear together when we celebrate Eucharist, or in our own prayer. And yet even though we know the truth of this in our own lives, that God can make something new where nothing seems possible, as a Church community it seems that we fear letting go of what is, in order to discover what might be even more faithful and faith-filled.
Our Traditions and Scripture assure us that life is to be found in love, that freedom comes from letting go and that the truth will set us free. Jesus showed us what being his disciple looks like – healing, loving, forgiving, celebrating, proclaiming, walking among, withdrawing to pray, being community that acts out of love for the people and whatever binds them, and re-gathers for prayer and teaching. Jesus showed us he could let go, when the Syrophoenician woman challenged him and, profoundly in his death. The early Church is indeed a powerful example of letting go: no circumcision for Gentiles, including the excluded of the time, slave and free sitting together. Christianity was an alternative to the prevailing culture. Jesus showed us that God is on our side. With us. For us. Inviting us to fullness of life. Not like the Roman and Greek gods who needed placating and appeasing.
So, if this is all true, then two questions confound me: Why are we not brave? Not brave enough to let go and step out over the waves when everything in our faith tells us that is how we will find life in its fullness? I also wonder how it is that we people of faith seem not to trust that God is already there ahead of us, being light in the darkness, inspiring hope, love, forgiveness, justice and peace where they are needed? It puzzles me that we think we have everything to give the world, when the world already has Love. God is already present as Nostra Aetate teaches. What would happen if we believed that?
God is to be found already active in this world of ours, rather than waiting for us to bring God to the world. How can it be that we ‘have God’ and others don’t?
You may be responding, but we have the Good News of Jesus Christ that the world needs. And that is true, but what is the Good News of Jesus Christ?