Saturday, April 28, 2007

You carry the name of Christ on your shoulders

This is a really scary example of how much people watch us as Catholics and will put us to the test! Always remember (as I try to remember) that you carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself "Catholic.
This is the last paragraph of the 5 Cents story I posted on mon. I got it again in my email today, but what is more weird is that today on the MRT back from our pastoral at St Joseph's Home, I encountered an example similar to this.

Two of us seminarians were on the NEL chatting away, talking about the upcoming Vocation Retreat. When two seats became available, we sat down and continued talking. Then I heard the word "seminarian" whispered, and I overheard a middle-aged couple sitting opposite us talking about us both, that we are seminarians, and that she recognised the logo on our t-shirts. I must have been straining my ears to catch what they might be saying about us, when the woman and I made eye-contact. She mouthed the words seminarian, and I just smiled back, nodded my head and mouth back yes.

After that it was this weird situation, the couple were in this kena caught talking about people mode and did not look over at us, and I was stuck wondering what I should be doing. The train was still quite full with people standing around, so was like quite awkward to start a conversation across the train carriage. Thoughts like should we introduce ourselves, make small talk. So in the end all I managed to do was wave and say goodbye when they got off at the stop.

This was like the situation of the priest in the bus in the 5 Cents story. The idea of me being a public figure has not really sunken in. There have been instances before where strangers have recognised and approached me. But the story and this incident, reminds me that there could also be others who might be observing me without me knowing. Now as a seminarian, more so as a priest. This means that I could be proclaiming Christ through my actions, or a cause of scandal for others by my actions.

But I think the scarier thing would for me to be so conscious of myself and image, that it becomes hypocritical. That I do good so that others may see, or portray a front, instead of changing the inner-reality of my life. Thus I pray for the grace to change my life, so that what is inside me, is what people see on the outside, "the name of Christ on my shoulders". Or as the bishop would say during the ordination rite when he hands the book of Gospels over
"believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach."

Friday, April 27, 2007

We are Easter People

This phrase "We are Easter People", is something I sometimes hear when I go for funeral wakes. Often by faith-filled family members who believe that their loved one is in the loving arms of God. We are Easter People, because Christ has died for our sins, and risen over death, and will bring us to eternal life with Him. So all this time, the term Easter people, has always been about celebrating Christ's victory over death, and giving us salvation.

But this year, Easter people has taken on a new meaning for me. It all started with the Vespers on the Feast of St Mark the Evangelist. The Psalter Antiphons were in relation to Mark as the Evangelist and his mission to spread the Gospel a.k.a. the Good News.

I have become a minister of the Gospel according to the bountiful gift of God, alleluia.

I do all things for the sake of the Gospel, to have a share in his blessings, alleluia.

To me this grace was given, to preach to the peoples the unsearchable riches of Christ, alleluia.
Somehow they struck me, especially the second one "I do all things for the sake of the Gospel." I guess because I think it is a struggle for me to see all that I do as for the sake of the Gospel. The more I reflected on it, especially in the following days meditation, I realised that the readings for Easter season focus on the spread of the Gospel, the Good News that Christ is risen.

We have the stories of Mary Magdalene and the Emmaus disciples bringing the news to the disciples. But more importantly the great commission of Jesus, to the disciples to proclaim the Good News to the ends of the earth. And this week in the first readings, we have the stories of Peter, Steven, Philip and my favourite Saul.

Indeed, Easter isn't just about us celebrating this wonderful event for ourselves. It is a challenge for us to live as Easter People, that is, to share this Good News to everyone we meet. Each time in the Mass, when we come to celebrate that paschal mystery, when we partake in the Eucharist, it is so that we can carry that mystery, that Good News out of the Mass, and proclaim it to the world, in the lives that we live. To be Easter people really is to live (or attempt our very best) like the Evangelist
"I do all things for the sake of the Gospel, to preach to the peoples the unsearchable riches of Christ."

Monday, April 23, 2007

Was Jesus a Christian?

After seeing Gerry and even Sr Wendy updating their blogs, and the constant reminder by a fellow brother that Christ has resurrected already, its time that my blog rose from its silence since Ash Wednesday. And with even MSC starting to blog on not one but three blogs, how God is working in their lives, really gives me the motivation to follow their example. You can find the blogs here, here and here.

This also coupled with the fact that I've had a constant theme hammering into my head from friday to today.

It all started with the Gospel on Friday Jn 6:1-15, when we were doing sharing, the phrase that struck me was "A large crowd followed him". This verse struck me, because just the day before I saw this interesting post on the S.A.L.T. blog on, the christian version of youtube. There I saw the christian version of the Mac vs. PC ads, Christian vs. Christ Follower, which i've put at the end of this post for your viewing pleasure. Anyway back to the Gospel passage, I contrasted the "Large crowd" that followed Christ but were receiving, and the disciples who were serving.

This got me thinking of what it means to be a Christ follower like in the videos. Ironically as much as the spoof ads were trying to criticise the "Christian" with his rigid rule following, the "Christ follower" goes the other extreme of not bothering with any rules, going on own personal preferences. There is another video on Godtube which talks about this. The balance that we need to find is not to be a slave to rules of the religion, and also not to totally disregard the rules. Like Jesus said, the Law was made for man, to help man to live the way God intended. but not to take it to the extreme of the pharisees. We need to know what the spirit of the Law is, and how it is helping us to live the Christian Life.

Anyway, over saturday, I was struck down by severe diarrhea, and during the many times I was on my "thinking seat" a question occurred to me - "We know Jesus was a Jew, but was Jesus a Christian?" It really made me think, and fundamentally it really boils down to what is the definition of a Christian. Is he one who believes in Christ? follows Christ? does good? As I thought about it further, it wasn't about reaching a yes or no answer to the question, it was really about what it meant to be Christian.(must be all the philosophy classes getting into my head) But anyway I got carried away, and started thinking how maybe that would be a good way for cathechism or RCIA, where the class debates over yes or no. Ultimately they will have to answer what it means to be Christian first.

Anyway, carrying on the theme of following Christ, in Sunday's Gospel, we see again Jesus' command in the last two words of the Gospel - "Follow Me". This being after Christ asked Peter of his love, and to feed and tend His sheep. And in today's Gospel, we see Jesus' commenting on the "Large crowd that followed Him", that they were following Him for the wrong reasons.

So really, what does it mean to be Christian, Christ follower, disciple, believer... at the end of the day the name itself isn't important. It is how it translates into our life that counts.

I will end of with this inspirational story that I received this morning, then I have to get back to my studies and all my assignments.

P.S. Jude just passed me a copy of the Catholic News. And on the front page the quote says "Come, follow me. I will make you Fishers of Men."

A priest moved to a new parish and some weeks after he arrived, he had occasion to ride the bus from his home to the city. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a 5 cents too much change.

As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, "You'd better give the 5 cents back. It would be wrong to keep it." Then he thought, "Oh, forget it, it's only 5 cents. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a gift from God' and keep quiet."

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, then he handed the 5 cents to the driver and said, "Here, you gave me too much change." The driver with a smile replied, "Aren't you the new priest in my parish? I have been thinking lately about going to mass. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I'll see you at church on Sunday"

When the priest stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest lamp post, held on, and said, "Oh God, I almost sold your Son for 5 cents."

Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read.

This is a really scary example of how much people watch us as Catholics and will put us to the test! Always remember (as I try to remember) that you carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself "Catholic."
Christian vs. Christ Follower Ads