Welcome Friends!

A Catholic blog about faith, social issues, economics, culture, politics and poetry -- powered by Daily Mass & Rosary

If you like us, share us! Social media buttons are available at the end of each post.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What Hinders the Spread of Christianity? Christians

Sermon by Fr. Joseph Mungai
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Feb. 5, 2017
St Mary of the Pines and Sacred Heart of Jesus Mission Church, Shreveport, LA, U.S.A.
Fr. Joe is on leave from his parish in Kenya, St. John the Apostle Awasi Catholic Church, Kisumu Archdiocese.
He asks for our prayers for his people who are experiencing hunger due to drought.

What is the greatest hindrance to Christianity in our country? 

This is a question that is bound to elicit a variety of answers depending on whom you ask. Possible answers would include: the mass media, popular culture, materialism, bad government policies, other religions, etc. A missionary had the occasion to put this very question to the great Mahatma Gandhi, “What is the greatest hindrance to Christianity in India?” 

His answer was swift and decisive: “Christians.” These are not committed Christians, but those who talk and behave in a manner that has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. 

Before the days of widespread high blood pressure, salt was regarded as a great good. It was salt that preserved food and kept it from spoiling. Salt was traded by caravans just as people traded gems and gold.

Jesus called His disciples  the salt of the earth -- we are essential to the world. We carry in us Christ's life sacrificed for all  mankind. He also identifies as as the light of the world. 

A mother and her small child once drove past the restored home of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois. It was night and the
President Lincoln's home in Springfield, Illinois
national shrine of the United States was brightly lit. "Look, mama," said the child excitedly, "Mr Lincoln left his lights on." The mother smiled, "Yes", she replied, "He left them on for the whole world to see." 

Although Lincoln has been dead since 1865, he is still a tremendous inspiration to everyone. But Christ Himself -- in a even greater sense -- remains the shining beacon for all people of all times. He is "Light from Light,  true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father." (Catechism of the Catholic Church)  Christ has shared with us His Light during baptism and He asks us to become His Light to the world.

In today’s gospel Jesus says to his disciples,
“You are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14). But elsewhere in John 8:12 Jesus says of Himself, “I am the light of the world.” Who then is the light of the world, Jesus or His followers? Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. We are nothing without Christ. To the degree you participate in Christ's life, you too become light to the world. 

The Christian in the world today is called to be salt and light. Now what do these mean? We are asked to be salt to our world because of Christ dwelling in us,  preserving it from spoiling because of greed, injustice and lust, preserving it from decaying because of dishonesty, disloyalty and disrespect. We are called to be salt to the world transforming it through Christian values such as chastity, human rights and decency. We are urged to be the light of the world illuminating our homes, parishes, nations with charity, truth,  peace along the way shown by Christ. 

As salt we are called to be sweet disciples, friendly and kind, living peacefully with everyone. As light, we are called to lead others to Christ. Without light, we bump into each another and fall into the ditch. But light says: “Here is the road, take it; here is danger, avoid it.” Our duty is to sanctify the world. 

But how do we do that? Take the path of salt and light. Salt must make the food taste better. If salt loses its taste then it is useless and can no longer make a difference. Light must dispel darkness. A flashlight with dead batteries helps no one in the dark.   If believers have nothing that distinguishes them from unbelievers, then they are like salt that has lost its saltiness and therefore cannot make a difference. And what distinguishes us from non-believers  but the life we live. As Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love is the distinctive mark by which you can tell the true Christian from the false.

Secondly, both salt and light operate by associating with the thing that they want to change. Salt cannot improve the food unless it goes into the food and changes it from within. Light cannot show the way unless it encounters the darkness. Sometimes Christians think that the way to go is to keep away from getting involved with society. But if we do that, we are hiding our lamp under the bushel basket. To make a difference we must get up and get involved.

Disciples of salt and light must meet the particular needs of our time. Save the world from corruption. Dispel the darkness of

division and injustice. See the needs of the hungry, naked and homeless. Come to their assistance. The Lord's appeal in our first reading "Share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless and clothe the naked." (Isaiah 58:7) still resounds today and it resounds louder than ever. 

In Kenya, this need is much felt especially in the North. I was impressed when I heard that people are donating through Red Cross to feed my vulnerable people. Nakedness can obviously be taken literally in terms of those without adequate clothing, but it has a wider meaning. The naked are those whose human dignity is denied, who stand before the rest of  humanity without protection, power or hope. It is therefore the responsibility of the Christian to recognise the dignity of each person, regardless of race, colour, tribe, religion or nationality.

Brethren, we will be called to make sacrifices and even face opposition from those who prefer to live in darkness and refuse to approach the light. St. Paul found success

only through the power of the Holy Spirit. "I did this," he wrote, "so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy, but on the power of God." (1 Cor 2:5). 

No comments:

Post a Comment