Not A Christianity

04-07-2024Weekly ReflectionFr. Leonard Villa

We have heard the passage from the Acts of the Apostles (20:17-38) in which Saint Paul speaks to the presbyters of Ephesus, intentionally recounted by Saint Luke as the testament of the apostle, as a discourse destined not only for the presbyters of Ephesus, but for the presbyters of all time. Saint Paul is speaking not only with those who were present in that place, he is really speaking with us, so let us try to understand a little of what he is saying to us, at this time. [...]

"I have served the Lord with all humility" (v. 19). "Humility" is a keyword of the Gospel, of the whole New Testament. [...] In the letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul reminds us that Christ, who was above all of us, was really divine in the glory of God, humbled himself, came down becoming man, accepting all the fragility of being human, going all the way to the ultimate obedience of the cross (2:5-8). Humility does not mean false modesty we are grateful for the gifts that the Lord has given to us but indicates that we are aware that all we are able to do is a gift from God, it is given for the Kingdom of God. In this humility, in this not wanting to make an appearance, we work. We do not ask for praise, we do not want "to be seen," for us it is not a decisive criterion to think about what they will say about us in the newspapers or elsewhere, but what God says. This is true humility: not to appear before men, but to be under the gaze of God and work with humility for God, and so really to serve humanity and men as well.

"I have never drawn back from what could be helpful, for the sake of preaching to you and instructing you" (v. 20). Saint Paul returns to this point after a few sentences and says: "I have not drawn back from the duty of proclaiming to you all the will of God" (v. 27). This is important: the apostle does not preach a Christianity "à la carte," according to his own tastes, he does not preach a Gospel according to his own favorite theological ideas; he does not draw back from the task of proclaiming all the will of God, even the inconvenient will, even the themes that personally are not very pleasing.

It is our mission to proclaim all the will of God, in its totality and ultimate simplicity. [...] And I think that the world of today is curious to know everything. [...] This curiosity should be ours as well: [...] truly to know all the will of God and to know how we can and should live, what is the path of our life. So we should make known and understood as much as we can the content of the "Credo" of the Church, from the creation to the Lord's return, to the new world. Doctrine, the liturgy, morality, prayer the four parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church indicate this totality of the will of God.

And it is also important not to lose ourselves in the details, not to create the idea that Christianity is an immense package of things to learn. Ultimately it is simple: God has shown himself in Christ. Entering into this simplicity I believe in God who showed himself in Christ and I want to see and realize his will has content, and according to the situations, we can then enter into the details or not, but it is essential that above all the ultimate simplicity of the faith be made understood. Believing in God as he has shown himself in Christ is also the inner richness of this faith, it gives the answers to our questions, including the answers that we do not like at first and are nonetheless the way of life, the true way. When we also enter into these things that we do not like so much, we can understand, we begin to understand that it really is the truth. And the truth is beautiful. The will of God is good, it is goodness itself.

The apostle says: "I have preached in public and in homes, testifying to Jews and Greeks about conversion to God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 20-21). Here there is a summary of the essential: conversion to God, faith in Jesus. But let's stay for a moment with the word "conversion," which is the central word or one of the central words of the New Testament, [...] in Greek "metànoia," change of thinking, [...] meaning a real change in our view of reality.

Since we were born in original sin, for us reality is the things that we can touch, it is money, it is my position, it is the things of every day that we see on the news: this is reality. And spiritual things appear a bit behind reality. "Metànoia," change of thinking, means inverting this impression. Not material things, not money, not the edifice, not what I can have is the essential, is reality. The reality of realities is God. This invisible reality, apparently far from us, is reality.

To learn this, and thus to invert our thinking, to judge truly how the real, that must orient everything, is God, this is the word of God. This is the criterion, God, the criterion of everything I do. This really is conversion: if my concept of reality has changed, if my thinking has changed. And this must then penetrate all the individual things of my life: in the judgment of every single thing to take as criterion what God says about this. This is the essential thing, not what I get now for myself, not the advantage or disadvantage that I will obtain, but the true reality, to orient ourselves to this reality.…this inversion of the concept of reality, namely that God is reality, Christ is reality and the criterion of my acting and of my thinking is to exercise this new orientation of our life. Benedict XVI

These are important words from a Pope regarding Christianity. They are important because many claim a “personal Christianity or religion based on themselves and their reading of the Gospel apart from the Church. A-la-carte -Christianity is false and simply human egotism, the worship of self.

From the Archives….

Pope John Paul II, before becoming Pope said as Cardinal Karol Woytjila” (November 9, 1976): We are today before the greatest combat that mankind has ever seen. I do not believe that the Christian community has completely understood it. We are today before the final struggle between the Church and the AntiChurch, between the Gospel and the AntiGospel.

One thing remains certain: the final victory belongs to God and that will happen thanks to Mary, the Woman of Genesis and of the Apocalypse, who will fight at the head of the army of her sons and daughters against the enemy forces of Satan and will crush the head of the serpent. Cardinal Ivan Dias

Virgo Maria, Décor Carmeli (The Virgin Mary, the Beauty of Carmel)