Mere Christianity?

How do we identify ourselves?  Is it by the association with a string of “Thou Shalt and Shalt-nots”? Is it as people who celebrate Christmas, St Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and “Good Friday”? Or, is it as a people who can have given to the world the most influential political and judicial systems? Indeed. We can justify these claims, and even more – the aggregate of these social systems. But, even together, they form only one aspect of our collective presence. There’s more.

I owe Christianity gratitude for the nurturing family of elders, siblings and other relatives. I owe the education system for the knowledge, skills and attributes that have helped me develop positive and constructive relationships within my self, with others and the rest of the world. I have been welcomed into a community that shares common values and beliefs. I am by definition happy. But, there’s more. I could not live on bread alone. 

Christianity is not just another way of life. Were it so there could be some sense in challenging it as a threat or an alternative. To us it’s the essence and conduit to our life source – our alpha and omega. It makes us who we are. Our outward forms are just vestiges of how we wish to be seen by others in our social and cultural interactions. Some call them our false selves. It is, however, by relating to ourselves and others as branches of one vine that we realise that we are more than flesh, blood, and an assembly of gregarious entities. In transcending the visible we see a reason for our being (for everything). God  gave us the power to name things, and we have given names to all of them. We can sense and experience birth, growth, pain, sorrow, joy, elation – the whole range in conditions and human emotions. And, we have named them well with the grace of God. Compassion and empathy with kindred souls are not just humane reactions, they are offerings to and in imitation of the One who is perfect in all respects. It’s through selfless acts and mindfulness of our Saviour’s grace and promises that we show our Christianity. One can ask no more

Pondering Perfection


We are invited to be perfect “as the Father’s perfect”. But only the Father is perfect. This “unrealistic” reaching for the impossible is a stumbling block for many. How can sinners become perfect? Perfection thus is seen a fixed state, which is different from seeing it as being progressional. The stimulus then becomes its own gratification . To be received into the kingdom of God, the young man who had kept the commandments all his life, was counselled by Jesus to sell off all his riches, give the proceeds to the poor, and then become a follower. It was a big ask, yet possible for one wanting to serve one master. Jesus is always asking for that extra effort: to walk that extra mile: to turn the other cheek: to forgive seventy times seven. The disciple, like a super athlete trains to break a record. Once achieved, the bar is raised higher for the next aspirant. There is no resting on laurels in this constant quest for perfection. When one mountain is surmounted, there is another ahead waiting to be climbed.

To those daunted by the challenge, Jesus has the answer, “All things are possible for God”. With His help we can ask a mountain to be removed, it will be moved. A plant tended to by humans during the day grows mysteriously during the night. So too with God’s help a camel may walk through the eye of a needle – if we believe.

Our spiritual life is the co-related organic dimension of our earthly presence. When our muscles and physical structure grow so too do awareness of history, the environment, and that uncanny ability to speculate on the future. Concurrently a spiritual growth also takes place (whether we recognise it or not). St Ignatius would say, just as the body needs exercise and nurturing, so does our spiritual life. By ignoring it we dumb it down, or, leave it stunted at some childhood level. Thereby, exposing it to misconceptions and unbalanced ridicule. 

Perfection of all that’s perfect, my Lord and Master! Teach me to walk in the way of perfection. You, who remain hidden from the learned and frustrate the proud, hear my prayer. Smile upon me, gather me in your arms, and give me the grace to seek earnestly, with humility, for that priceless pearl for which I would give up all desires and riches, and follow you.