Theme: Witnessing to the Gospel in Faith and Love
Pragmatism is an ideology that evaluates theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application. For instance, a pragmatist will only believe that one is a good cook not when he describes the process of preparing a particular dish but when he actually prepares it well.
Pragmatism has permeated every sector of our society and religion has not been spared. In times past, people believed a man of God by the authority with which he spoke, but today, by the signs and wonders he perform. The world wants every theory to be practiced and proved effective before it is accepted.
In the gospel reading (Jn. 20:19-31), we see Thomas as a core pragmatist. He did not believe in reasoning but in experience. He never wanted to listen to the event of Christ’s resurrection and appearance but wanted to experience it. He needed an empirical first-hand experience.
In our religious practices, many of us are like Thomas. We want God to show us everything, to reveal every mystery to us before we believe. We want to see the Eucharist turn into empirical flesh and blood. We want to see a candidate for anointing of the sick rise up immediately after receiving the sacrament. We want God’s blessings and promises to materialize immediately, etc.
But have we ever cared to compare our expectation from God and God’s expectations from us? We expect God to be pragmatic, to be practical, but are we also pragmatic in our relationship with God? Can our religious doctrines and beliefs be seen practically in our lives?
In the first reading (Acts 4:32-35), we see a good example of pragmatic Christianity. The early Christians were preaching the gospel of Christ’s resurrection, emphasizing peace, love, tolerance, unity, etc. and these virtues were practically seen in the way they lived. Today, their community spirit and practical examples are presented to us examples to follow.
In the second reading (1 John 5:1-6), we are given two ingredients for a practical Christianity: faith and love. One may ask if there could be a Christian who does not believe in God. The answer could be found when we consider believing in God to mean our way of life expressing our conviction about God.
When we believe in God, we should express this belief by loving God and the only way to love God is by keeping His commandments which are summarized into love for God and love for our neighbour.
Beloved brethren, within this period of lent and beyond, the Church exhorts us to witness to the gospel of Christ’s resurrection not just by mere proclamation by mouth but by our actions. Our actions should depict triumph of good over evil. It should portray love for God and our neighbours. This love should not be selfish but should be open to all irrespective of sex, race or creed, because Christ died for all. You can begin today to show good examples in your school, office, business, etc. It is never too late to begin something good.
For those who are backsliding in faith because some believers do not show up their faith in actions, Jesus exhorts you today: “blessed are those who do not see but believe”. Do not be discouraged rather put up the actions that others will see and believe. God loves you.
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