Dear friends in Christ,
Last month I wrote to you on the theme of having a ‘generous spirit’, how in a troubled world we as Christians can embody in our lives a spirit of love, care and peace built upon the foundations of our faith.
If you have followed the weekday Bible readings over the past few weeks you will know that the Old Testament lesson has been about the Kings of Israel and Judah. Overall they didn’t embody a such a spirit, ignoring and even persecuting God’s prophets Elijah and Elisha. Both of these holy men lived out God’s commands and devoted their lives to telling others of God’s will for his people. Their words and their actions mirrored each other, that is they practiced what they preached. Their lives had a spiritual and prayerful dimension but also a visible, active dimension too.
It is often hard to get the balance between the spiritual and the practical (just think of Mary and Martha!) but trying to achieve this is an important part of our Christian faith. It can also be hard to know what comes first, prayer and faith or an active encounter that inspires a spiritual reaction. Recently one of the Sunday Bible readings was the healing of Naaman (2kings 5:1-15). Naaman, a foreign army officer, is persuaded to seek the help of Elisha who heals him, thus, leading Naaman to declare ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.’ Elisha’s faith allowed God to work through him, healing Naaman who had a spiritual transformation. Faith and action were both involved.
Mother Teresa wrote that action and prayer help one another, action needs prayer to be ‘productive’ and prayer builds upon the grace of God which is shown to the world by active service. Perhaps, she was inspired by St Paul’s words in The Letter to the Galatians (6:9), ‘So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.’ We need faith and prayer to guide our actions if we are to do God’s will.
In these uncertain and troubled times we need to live out our faith more visibly than ever. The world needs a true guiding light and we Christians are each a small candle shining into our families, neighbourhoods and parish.