First Reading: Acts 20:28-38; Psalm: 68. R. v. 33a; Gospel: Jn 17:11b-19
LIVING IN THE WORLD FOR CHRIST
FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
“I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one” (Jn 17:15).
Some of us strive for righteous living amidst the distractions in our world today by retreating, praying, fasting, choosing our friends, and isolating ourselves completely from those we classify as “bad” people. We live as though once we mingle or interact with certain people or share a meal with a heathen, we become foul and unholy. This life of escapism that builds a bulwark between us and others because of their religion or way of life is unchristian. A true Christian should not get frightened by worldly realities. We live in the world to face it and to change it. But this becomes impossible to do when we play the escapist.
Listen to this prayer of Jesus for his disciples: “Father, I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one.” Here, Jesus prayed to the Father to grant his disciples the grace to conquer the influences of evil as they disseminate the gospel and not for them to run away from the challenges of the faith. If not, they would practically achieve nothing new. St Paul in the first reading warned the elders of the Church of Ephesus of wolves that would arise to scatter the flock of Christ at his departure. This admonishment was not for them to run away from these wolves but to be alert to face them. Finally, he commended them to God for protection just as Jesus did for his disciples.
Our humanness shouldn’t scare our spirituality. Just as the body though in conflict with the spirit is not separated from it as long as we exist here on earth; so should we not practice our spirituality as if to say we are not humans. By our very nature as humans, we are gregarious and reasonable. So when we allow our spirituality to put a knife on our gregariousness, we become separated from the world we are called to change. God wants us to be humanly spiritual. To be holy yet human. Christ remains our perfect model. He did not dissociate himself from the people of the world he was called to serve and save. So let us be all-inclusive in loving and relating with people. Succinctly, we are called to live in the world but not for the world.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, grant us the grace to be holy yet human. Amen.