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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories: God & Us

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5)

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all want peace. We want it for our world, we want it for our communities, for our families and we even desire an interior peace for ourselves. To live in peace with one another is a key to healthy relationships. If we look around us and even within ourselves we can see we are often without peace.

Our world and is divided in so many ways, nations, political views, races and religious beliefs, cultural variations and linguistic divisions. How often these divides and differences imperil our relationships and the peace for which we long. They often lead to violence and war, domination and exploitation. They threaten life and well-being for us all.

This is not what God’s dream is for our creation and life. God’s Reign is not intended to be this way. The Reign of God is to be marked by peace and reconciliation, by mercy, love and compassion for all. We are one humanity under God’s heaven and we share a creation that is entirely a gift of God’s love. That this Reign of God is among is central to Jesus’s mission and message. As disciples of Jesus our call is to hold this message and share it as our mission as well.

The message and mission are not always held firmly in our hearts and actions. We know what we want and hope, but our actions reveal our inabilities and lack of will. The Gospel writer, Matthew relates a story, a parable of Jesus. It tells of a man who had two sons. One he asked to go work in the vineyard. This son said he would go, but did not. A second son, when told to go, said he would not, but he had a change of heart and in fact did go. (Matt 21:28-32) This is a story of discipleship and commitment, of willingness to accept the call and carry it into action.

The story expresses the reality of our life as disciples. Often, we commit, but do not carry it further. We need to know that even if we reject the call or fail in the commitment, we can have a change of heart. God’s Reign is never beyond our reach, for God is a God of love, compassion and mercy. God never gives up on us, nor should we. Hope is eternal, in God’s Reign.

If there is a contribution we as a Christian community can bring to our world, it is the gift of peace for all. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be this gift for one another, for our communities and for our world. The earliest Christian communities were recognized by some for how they lived with one another. Almost 2000 years ago, a Christian writer, Tertulian (c.160-220), noted the way non-Christians around his community regarded the Christians. As he wrote, they said: “See . . . how they love one another and how they are ready to die for each other.” It is how we live that speaks to our world.

During the Jubilee Year called by Pope Francis in 2015-16, he highlighted a single virtue, MERCY. This virtue forms the basis of peace and reconciliation in all relationships. It must mark us as a Church and individually as disciples of Jesus. Mercy allows us to be open to people where they are. It helps us to be non-judgemental as Church and as persons. It calls us to be ready to heal the wounds and hurts of our world. Mercy is to be the face that every community of Christians presents.

Mercy is the key to living like Jesus whose disciples we are. Above all, it leads us to a living faith that brings compassion and peace for all of humanity. This is the message and the mission of Jesus.

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5)

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