By Canon Gerry Conroy
We have so much fear in our lives, so many unspoken ‘What ifs?,’ and this pandemic has brought them all to the forefront, it has made them more present to us, even if we still try not to confront them. But what if we decided to do something about these things in our life? This pandemic forces us to face the reality of life. If we have shrugged our shoulder at the goings on in our world, then we have acted like the majority of people who think the things are too great for us to change. I suppose as long as we see ourselves as individuals alone against the world we will never do anything to try and make things better.
As Christians, we must ask whether Faith is a running away from the reality of life or facing it? The Gospel talks about Christ calling the first disciples. He called them for a purpose. We are called, set apart, chosen for something special. Faith brings us to confront the imperfect reality of life, to live in it, but with a new vision of where it should be going. If this pandemic brings all our fears our ‘What ifs?’ to the forefront, faith brings the reality of our lives and our world before us, confronts them with hope and asks, ‘What now?’. Faith is like the prophet Samuel who finally understands that it is God calling him in these events and his response is, ‘Speak, Lord your, servant is listening’.
We all relate to the world from the viewpoint of our particular experiences. That means that none of us has a full view of the truth, just as Samuel didn’t at first recognise who was speaking to him. Our modern world in a way understands that; it speaks of each person’s truth, but it falls short because it fails to look on these truths as partial, it fails to accept that we may be only glimpsing something much greater, much fuller. Faith invites us to listen to someone who has the whole Truth and to seek him, to seek God, to listen to him as did Samuel so that we may come to the Truth.
We are not perfect, we hold a treasure in vessels of clay as St Paul said to us and sometimes we confuse the vessels and all their faults and failings with the treasure they hold. Perhaps that is why St John introduced Christ as the Lamb of God, the sacrificial Lamb of the temple offerings. Christ would be the one to open eyes to a perspective different than their own limited view. He would be the one to enlarge their vision of Truth and help them move from their own truths to this greater one. He would be the one to reconcile us with the fullness of truth we had lost by his sacrifice on the cross.
Come and see said Jesus to those first disciples. This is the invitation of Faith for all of us. There are no quick, simple easy solutions to this pandemic, even with the vaccine. In the same way, Faith does not promise an easy answer to life, an instantaneous solution to the problems we face. It teaches us to acknowledge the imperfect reality of life, and then to listen and to learn as we become disciples of Christ.
Canon Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton.
Picture of St Patrick’s by Robert Beacon