Christians must live by example

By  Anthony Labriola, Catholic Register Special
  • January 30, 2009
{mosimage}Editor’s note: this is one of four honorary mentions for the Friars Student Writing Award contest sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and The Catholic Register. Anthony Labriola, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School in Oshawa.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus shattered cultural precepts. He ate with the tax collectors and prostitutes, acting as physician to the spiritually ailing. His gift of salvation has not been reserved for a select group. Even those who persecuted Christ at Calvary were not excluded from His prayers or beyond the reach of His compassion.

Christians everywhere are called to imitate the love Christ embodied toward neighbours and enemies alike. But how can we expect to be messengers of Christ’s love if not by the example of our own solidarity? It is time for the various Christian denominations to be reconciled by refocusing on the commonality of our beliefs. We should consider the countless ways in which the interests, values and principles of all Christians are interwoven instead of dwelling on the discrepancies that polarize us. The invocation of divine assistance through prayer is essential as we move towards unity, so that Christianity may shine out as the brightest beacon of hope in an age of growing scepticism and worldliness.

Long before the coming of Christ, God made known to His prophet Ezekiel the shared destiny of Israel and Judah. These two tribes, separated like ends of a broken branch, were to become one nation under God so that what was divided “may be one in your hand” (Ezekiel 37.17). This passage reassures us that God longs to see His children stand united in His grace.

The many expressions of faith that depart from teachings central to Catholic theology are the result of the insatiable human need for veracity. On a personal level, one’s convictions are the only means of testing spiritual truth. Bearing in mind the incompatibility of creeds, the question remains: exactly to whose authority should we submit? Whether or not one believes that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ or that transubstantiation occurs at the eucharistic altar, one’s obedience to Jesus — the Jesus present in the Gospels — must never be compromised. Ultimately, God will judge the purity of our hearts before judging the inconsistencies of our dogmas and interpretations.

Let us recall the efforts of Pope John Paul II to promote inter-faith relations. By inspiring reflection on the different religions of the world, the eyes of Christians were opened to better appreciate the infinite diversity of God.

The recipe for achieving unity is provided in the Gospels. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declares: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children God” (Matthew 5:9). The very fact that disunity exists among Christians only goes to show how living in accordance with the beatitudes is rarely an easy vocation.

Christians the world over should pray for the wisdom to give up prejudices that have been formed throughout history and enter into a new chapter of prevailing peace and communion in Christ. During this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Christians of every background can take comfort in the knowledge that we are all brothers and sisters united by our allegiance to Jesus, Lord and Redeemer. As it is written in the book of Isaiah, God has engraved each of His children on the palms of His hands.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
Type the text presented in the image below

Support The Catholic Register

Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.