Tuesday, March 11, 2003

What Difference Does Christ Make?

"Men, women, children, deeply divided as to race, nation, language, way of life, work, education, status, wealth . . . -- all are restored by the Church in the Spirit . . . All receive from her one nature which is beyond corruption -- the nature that is not affected by the numerous and profound differences by which people differ from one another . . . In her, no one is at all separated from the common, as everyone is as if dissolved in one another by the simple and indivisible power of faith" (St. Maxim the Confessor).

During this season of Lent it might be a good time to think about what a difference Christ makes in our lives. Are we any different from unbelievers? What is it that we truly trust in? Do we believe that no matter what God ultimately is Lord of Lords?

It strikes me that Christians have always taken one passage of Scripture and gone in two directions with it. When Jesus faces Pontius Pilate He tells Pilate that Pilate has no power over Him that was not given to Him by God.

One view of this is to stand by and to see whoever is in power in any particular country as God-ordained. The other and this has often been expressed in the Catholic Church is to see that the Church has a role in determining who is in power because the church has a divine mandate here on earth.

So it is natural for Catholics to stand back and criticize political powers and unnatural for Christians of other ilks. In the end though both sides will view whatever the outcome is as some form of judgment of God.

The same Jesus who said "let him who does not have a sword go out and buy one," and was told by the apostles that they had two swords--later told Peter when he pulled out the sword to put it away, "for those who 'live' by the sword die by the sword." What do we live by?

Only you and I can answer these questions individually and honestly. Only we can decide during this Lenten season to Christ as the answer to all of the ills that plague society and the world. We can make a choice to pray for the coming of God's Kingdom or to try to build our own kingdoms without God. It is our choice, it is the choice of everyone on the face of the earth regardless of what situation they find themselves in.

St. Paul tells us that "in Christ there is neither east or west, Greek or Jew, male or female," that all believers make up one body of Christ--the Church. We live in the days of a separated body of Christ and our world is the sadder for this. The body of Christ does not act with uniformity, in fact it often punishes itself. Let us seek to be a unified member of Christ's body this Lent!