A thought from today’s gospel reading:
In a world where what is tangible and visible is usually the ultimate measure, what is big and powerful is often held as the greatest measure of the success of an endeavour.
But Jesus doesn’t need a big and powerful crowd:
“For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.” Mt 18:20
Thanks be to God our goal is not to be big and powerful but to simply live in personal and communal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is this relationship that enables a human to not just cope and survive life, but to truly live.
Our Christian history shows us that this is also the most effective method for growth, since simple, faithful authenticity is deeply attractive to people who seek to live with integrity.
Our method: simple faithfulness.
Pope Benedict spoke about this a few years ago:
“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members….It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallisation and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . .”
Then he concluded:
“But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as humanity’s home, where people will find life and hope beyond death.” “Faith and the Future“. Cardinal Ratzinger
We can become disheartened when the Christian community seems to have less influence in society than it had just a few decades ago. We need to remember that after three years of full time ministry Jesus was left with only a dozen unreliable followers, but once they understood his risen presence with them there conversations between two and three and twelve became a shared life of faith that transformed the world.
After their experience of personal failure and weakness (at the time of Jesus suffering and death), Jesus returns to the disciples, seeking to fill their nothingness with the abundance of God. They went fishing, but their own angling efforts led to nothing. When they brought their need to Jesus, he overwhelmed them with the catch of their lives.
Our model for life is the method of Jesus and his disciples, and most often the transmission of faith does not happen through powerful oratory or successful plans but where two or three people share the life of faith, seeking to live in harmony with each other in relationship with Jesus Christ.
- As we celebrate Fathers’ Day in New Zealand let’s take a moment to pray for our fathers, both biological fathers and those who may have filled this role for us throughout our lives. Our fathers may be living or dead. (Note the incorrect email with the “two or three” reflection was sent out today – the correct link to the Fathers’ Day reflection is at the top of this page)
- I’m going to think small today, looking for the signs of Jesus present in my failures and struggles, and treasuring the conversations I have with one or two others, especially when we share something of our life in relationship with Jesus. You might like to join me today in this thinking little.
- As many of us continue these days as a retreat-in-daily-life, this simple morning and evening reflection might be helpful. Try it on waking in the morning before getting out of bed, or last thing at night after turning out the light.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your initials to join those taking these few days as a simple retreat-in-daily-life, and to invite others to keep you in prayer. Click the image to enlarge.