A popular book by Kenneth Stokes Faith is A Verb (1989) encourages readers to appreciate that growing in faith is a life-long process. The title is also a reminder that the gift of faith is not something static. It’s more than something we are given which we thank God we have, then leave on the shelf to gather dust. Faith is active it is missionary. As we continue to implement the diocesan Pastoral Plan Fit for Mission we are challenged think about how our faith makes a difference to our lives as missionary disciples (See James 2:17-14).
Christian Baptism calls us to holiness and action. We are called to grow our personal relationship with God and to be committed to making a difference in the world. For the Christian, faith and helping others are part and parcel of being Christian, of living out our Baptism. At the conclusion of Mass having been fed by the Eucharist we are dismissed with words such as, “Go forth, the Mass is ended” or “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”. In colloquial terms we are being challenged “Don’t stand around! As a community we have shared the Word and Eucharist and this means you are ready. Go out and serve others”. “Go forth in mission”.
In our busy lives it is easy to justify not bothering with others. As we rush from home to work and back again our instant age makes it easy to juggle numerous things. Many of us are gadget rich and time poor. Still others of us do not have a lot of money to share. We’re just scraping by with school donations, increased costs of living and more demands on our time. And at other times it all seems overwhelming and it’s easy to think what can I do?
As it happens we can do quite a lot. Simple non-expensive actions can have a big impact.
- We may not be able to find accommodation nor afford to feed the homeless person on the street but we can smile and say hello to them rather than dip our eyes and avoid them. We can reverence their human dignity.
- Similarly we can spend time and befriend the person at Church, work or school who is on the edge, a little different and a bit lonely.
- We can share the world’s resources more equitably by making the effort to ensure we use the recycling systems in our communities fully. We can also choose to buy FairTrade goods.
- …….and so much more.
Further, we are a community of disciples. Together we can change hearts and minds.
Unknown Inmate by Fritz Koelle, was erected at the Dachau concentration camp memorial site in 1950.
The Dachau memorial is a powerful reminder that
“all that is required for evil to prevail is for good men (sic) to do nothing” (Edmund Burke).
Our Faith calls us to make a difference, to ask the hard questions of systems that do not nurture human dignity, to go the extra mile to support those less able to speak or fend for themselves.