Talbot 6/9/19

I ran across a piece in the office of readings for Liturgy of Hours a couple of weeks ago that really made me think.  It is a letter that was sent in the second century, and it talked about how Christians relate to the world.  I thought I’d share a little bit of it and pray that it helps you pause and reflect on if this is true of Christians today.

Christians are indistinguishable from others either by nationality, language, or customs.  They do not inhabit separate cities of their own or speak a strange dialect or follow some outlandish way of life.  Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men.  Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine.  With regard to dress, food, and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet, there is something extraordinary about their lives.  They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through.  They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens.  Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country.  Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them.  They share their meals, but not their wives.  They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh.  They pass their days upon the earth, but they are citizens of heaven.  Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law.

Christians love all, but all persecute them.  Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to live again.  They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything.  They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory.  They are defamed, but vindicated.  A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult.  For the good they do, they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body.  As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world.  As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen.  The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places upon its pleasures.  Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred.  It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together.  The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven.  Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

~ Dcn Wayne Talbot

Side Menu Helper