“If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
I have often considered this question since I first heard it many years ago. Some of the “evidence” that we are Christians might be the charitable work we do, such as helping to feed the poor. This kind of service elicits approval from others and is therefore comparatively easy to carry out. But living our Catholic faith should also challenge us significantly at times. We may even be perceived as trouble-makers…just like Jesus was.
Jesus is the Suffering Servant foretold by Isaiah in today’s First Reading. He was persecuted and misunderstood for what he said and did. He suffered because he was obedient to the Father, and if we want to follow Christ, we will suffer due to our obedience as well.
The first Christians were certainly persecuted for following Christ. The early followers of Christ talked about Jesus, preached about Jesus, and performed miracles in his name. They lived differently. There was plenty of “evidence against them,” and they sometimes suffered greatly for it. All but one of the apostles, for example, died a martyr’s death.
So how do we know what God is calling us to? How radical should we be as we seek to follow Christ? What if something we say or do draws blank stares, or offends someone, or worse?
There are several practical things we can do to discern what God is calling us to in the moment, and to find the courage to follow Christ wherever he may lead. Most importantly, we must open ourselves more fully, more continually, to the Holy Spirit and try to respond to his prompting. We must be willing to look like a fool for Christ! Also, when we feel intimidated in these situations, we can use the words of Scripture to strengthen ourselves. Today’s First Reading, for example, unites us with Christ as we pray, “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced.”
If we come from a place of humility, love, prayer, and a strong sacramental life, God will give us the grace we need to live our faith more boldly and in a way that bears fruit.
Certainly we are called to serve God by coming alongside others in their need, loneliness, or trouble. But we must also be willing to do that which is less socially acceptable. The Suffering Servant is our model.
We welcome Christine Hanus as a new contributing author on our Diocesan team!
Feature Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio, https://www.pexels.com/photo/curious-isolated-young-woman-looking-away-through-metal-bars-of-fence-with-hope-at-entrance-of-modern-building-3808801/