I’ve observe a lot of people in the street in Newark wearing a Rosary around their necks, like jewelry. I’m not sure what the significance is, but I don’t think there has been a great upsurge in conversions in the Arch-Diocese. And based on other outward signs I see displayed along with the Rosary, I doubt they are declaring their great love of the Blessed Virgin Mary. More likely, the Rosary has become just another fashion fad, like big - bling - crosses.
We Christians should be known, not by the large crosses we wear or by the Rosaries the hang around our necks or from our car mirrors, but by the lives we live in Christ. Living Gospel lives of love, peace and God’s justice; living as children of God, brothers and sisters of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In the early Church, writers remarked on the extraordinary behaviors of the members of a new cult – Christians, followers of “The Way”. How they lived together in peace and harmony – following the teachings of this Jesus, - living according to the words he spoke – sharing with, caring for and loving others. They worshipped together in communities, sharing their goods with everyone, caring for those in most need: widows and orphans – all the most vulnerable in society. It was remarked how they welcomed strangers into their communities; looking after their needs with hospitality and grace, never asking for anything in return.
These were the outward signs of their faith in Christ Jesus – living as He lived:
W treating everyone with dignity and respect,
W caring for those in most need,
W seeking justice for the oppressed,
W bringing peace and healing to the troubled
W inviting the lost into shelter and comfort
W feeding the hungry
W comforting the sorrowful
Just as Jesus attracted followers through his teachings – in word and action, so too did his disciples – building up their new communities, spreading the Word of God, putting into practice his message of peace, love and justice, for all God’s beloved children.
“Who do the crowds say I am?” asks Jesus. He is answered, “John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets.” Jesus understands that the crowds who come to see and hear him know he is someone special. He understands they recognize him as someone sent by God.
“Who do you say I am?” Jesus then asks his disciples. Peter answers, “You are the Christ of God.”
His disciples have been with Jesus, listening to his words, watching him heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead. They know by his words and by his actions that he is from God – ‘The Messiah, the Holy One of God’ of whom the prophets spoke. By his life they know him.
If we were to ask someone who we are – what would they say? Would they call us Christians?
W Would they know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ?
W Do our words and our actions speak of our belief in the teachings of Jesus?
W Do our lives reflect our life in Christ – the life we put on in baptism?
W Would someone answer, “You are a disciple of Jesus, living in His Way, His Truth and His Life?”
Living as a disciple of Jesus is not easy. Jesus says: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life - will lose it, but whoever loses his life - for my sake - will save it.”
A life in Christ – being known as a disciple of Jesus is as radical and revolutionary now - as it was then and just as dangerous. Discipleship in Christ is completely counter-cultural in our increasingly secular world.
Jesus dwells in the hearts of all who live the truth of his Word. He is seen in the face of all people who work, - with great love, - for peace, life and justice. All who live in God’s love of all his children – live a life where we:
W Treat each stranger as our brother or sister – in Christ
W Feed the hungry, - Care for the sick, - Clothe the naked
W See in sufferings of others as our own suffering – the suffering of Christ
W Where we work for the common good of all people and never count the cost
W Give a preferential seat at the table to the poor the marginalized,
W Be a voice to the voiceless,
W Stand up for the suffering and the oppressed,
W Be caring stewards of our world – our gift from God
W Using our talents of God’s grace to bring Jesus’ message of – Peace, Life and Justice to all the world
St. Francis reminds disciples to, “Preach the Gospel at all times, - use words, if necessary.”
Let our lives in Christ be our answer to the question, “Who do you say I am?” - Amen
Deacon Don Ron