By Canon Gerry Conroy
How many, I wonder, will look back on this past year and consider it a wasted time, a year lost to their life. It has been an experience that has changed the outlook on life of many. Reflecting on the readings this Sunday I think that similarly they suggest to us that you get a different perspective on things when you are imminently facing God and eternity. The people of Nineveh rethink their life when disaster threatens. St Paul puts before the people a different consideration of how to live because all things are passing and the disciples leave everything behind when confronted by Christ’s call to repent and believe the Good News because the time of the Kingdom of God had come.
Are we imminently facing eternity and God? No, we are lucky – we have been given time to act on the future we know is inevitably coming, rather than simply lamenting too late the wasted years.
St Augustine has a beautiful lament in his Confessions: he writes, ‘Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!’ Like everyone else he was looking for beauty in his life, searching for a life of peace without troubles and hardships, but he came to recognise that he was looking for that in all the wrong places, he was hoping for all these things here on earth and eventually he realised it was not to be fully found on earth, it could only be found in Christ, in eternity. Despite his lament, he too was lucky because he had more time and so for the present, he found comfort in God’s exceedingly great mercy, on that alone, he came to see rested all his hope.
On the face of it, the decision of the disciples to suddenly abandon everything and follow Christ makes little sense. It can only make sense if they have suddenly seen life in a new light. Obviously that new light was Christ himself. He made them ask questions about their life, which generally speaking is an uncomfortable thing to do. For some this this pandemic has made them ask questions about their life, for others questions on their life have come because of the birth of a baby, or the death of someone close, an illness or some other life changing event. But the questions don’t necessarily bring about a change in how we go about life as it did for those first disciples of Christ. That is a choice we have to make when faced with this new thing that has entered our life.
That is what faith is, this decision to change how we go about life because of this new outlook. It’s not a one-off decision because life is like a river that flows towards us bringing all sorts of new things for us to live through. So faith is a decision again and again we make, a decision to live life with Christ.
Canon Gerry Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton