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BEING ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT OUR FAITH AND IGNORING THE OBVIOUS

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Zech. 2:5-9, 14-15 & Lk. 9:43-45

Zechariah, like Haggai, was a prophet. They both shared the same hopes for a restored and renewed Jerusalem. Zechariah had a vision of the city with a defensive wall being built around it. But God told him that no wall should be built, because large numbers of people would come to inhabit Jerusalem, and their access must not be restricted. There would be no need for a wall to protect the citizens, because God Himself would be their protector and would live among them.

This vision could well be an image of the Christian church today. It reaches out to every country in the world. Christ wants to draw everyone to His Church and we have to play our part in bringing others into it. How do we do this? Imagine you are an enthusiastic member of a club. You want to attract new members and so you tell all your friends about it. You organise social functions and invite friends and acquaintances to come. Your enthusiasm would find many ways of increasing the membership. Do we feel the same way about our Church?

The foundation of our enthusiasm must be a thorough knowledge of our faith. We need to read and renew ourselves. There are many books and Catholic newspapers (and some websites!) which can broaden our outlook and expand our knowledge of the faith.

How does each of us appear to non-Catholics? If people see we are friendly, loving, warm-hearted, welcoming and sincere, they may well be interested in joining us. If it appears that we have answers to the difficult problems of life, that we are not materialistic, that we work at maintaining happy marriages and good homes, then people might want to see why. When they see what the faith does to our lives, the joy and confidence it gives us, then they may want to learn more and perhaps with God's help join us.

Reading the New Testament after the fact we can only marvel at the denseness of the disciples. How could they be so blind as to what Jesus stood for really? How could His arrest by the authorities take them completely by surprise? How could His death on the Cross have devastated their faith in Him? How could His resurrection from the dead have exceeded their wildest hopes? Jesus gave them plenty of opportunities to discover these truths. After a given point in time He talked candidly about what His enemies would do to him - arrest Him, scourge, and put Him to death. He also promised that the chains of death would not hold Him captive for long. But for all of this advance warning, the events during the latter days of Christ's presence on Earth took them all by surprise.

The disciples were guilty of ignoring the obvious. But lest we be too quick to criticise them, we ought to recognize our own penchant for doing this. Think of how many times people shut their eyes to what is obvious. How many parents have simply ignored the signs that their daughter has an eating disorder or their son a drinking problem? How many times has an anxious wife overlooked all the tell-tale signs that her husband is having an affair? How often have government leaders failed to take steps to prevent problems that were clearly going to happen?

Lord Jesus, we shut our eyes to the obvious because we do not want to admit to ourselves that we have failed, or that we have been betrayed. Help us to realise that with Your help we can begin to take control of our lives by facing up to the obvious.

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