FRIARS ESSAY: Practise what Christ preaches

By  Gregory Drozdzal, Catholic Register Special
  • January 26, 2007
Editor's Note: this is the second place winner of the Friars' Student Writing Award sponsored by Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and The Catholic Register. Gregory Drozdzal, 16, is a Grade 11 student at St. Michael's Choir School in Toronto. The contest is held in conjunction with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Over the coming weeks, we will publish all six winning essays.

At the Last Supper, Jesus Christ expressed His desire for unity among His followers when He prayed, "That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that thou didst end me" (John 17:21).  Although Christ's early followers were once united, human nature and differences in theology caused the Christian community to splinter into different churches and traditions. Today, Christian unity may seem like a daunting goal, but we can improve relations with one another by learning to open our ears and loosen our tongues — by listening attentively to Christ's message and placing His teachings into practice.

In Mark 7:31-37, we read that Jesus healed a deaf man who was mute by "opening" his ears and his mouth. In our current divided state, we Christians are like the deaf man; wandering, lost and unable to communicate. To remedy our spiritual deafness and muteness, we need to both hear and spread Christ's teachings. It is through such active involvement in our common faith in Christ that Christians will encourage unity among one another.

The call to open our ears to the Word of Christ is a request to hear Jesus' ultimate message of compassion and love for one another. Unfortunately today's modern secular culture erodes traditional values and the growth of consumerism and self-indulgence deafens us from hearing God's message. It also impedes us from hearing the cries of our less fortunate brethren who are suffering physically, mentally and spiritually due to sickness and poverty, as well as political and economic conditions. By heeding the call to actively open our ears, we must pause from our busy schedules and from the pursuit of material desires to hear Christ's message and with His aid, to also hear the suffering and needs of the less fortunate. It is by opening our ears to the Good News that we will be able to strengthen the bond of love that draws all Christians together in communion with God.

Once we hear Christ's message of love, we must loosen our tongues and, as true Christians, take a more active role in spreading His Word by applying His teachings in ways that are of benefit to humanity. We must demonstrate outward signs of love and compassion for one another by performing acts of good will such as helping the disadvantaged, speaking out against injustice and oppression and defending moral values. If all Christians work together to obey the teachings of Jesus and act as instruments of His love, we will come into fuller communion with one another.

As well as endeavouring to live the teachings of Jesus together, Christians must engage one another in theological and spiritual dialogue in order to promote cooperation and communication to achieve unity. With my classmates, I have participated in various ecumenical services where Christians have united to worship God through common prayer and song. I have also participated in activities that reach out to the homeless in our community, a project that is not particular to one Christian tradition. These opportunities promote spiritual bonding among Christians as they emphasize theological similarities, especially our belief in the same God and pastoral similarities such as those practices and projects that promote outreach to those who are marginalized and cast aside.

By opening our ears and loosening our tongues, we can understand the teachings of Christ and effectively communicate the truth and wisdom of His Word. By hearing and preaching this common message, we will strengthen the Christian community and promote unity.

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