RELIGION: Christ encourages action before despondency and despair.

By Canon Gerry Conroy

Life can tell people frequently to give up, that it is not worthwhile struggling for something we have believed in because all around us we see violence and death, we see betrayal and hypocrisy, we see lies instead of truth. Life can force on us the question, what has this all been about, what is the point of it all when no one seems to bother, when no one seems to care, when no one else is willing to put themselves out for something better not just for themselves.

The second reading offers us a vision of what we hope for, a life of peace and happiness, a vision of the realisation of what Christ has promised. It is not about an earthly paradise, but a heavenly one that seeps into the structures here on earth. But life can crush our hopes and belief before such a vision.

We look around and the contrast between the vision, between our hopes and what we find seems so often to bring despair and cynicism into people’s lives that one step closer. The enthusiasm of the first Apostles in preaching the Good News of God’s Kingdom can seem empty before our world and what has actually been achieved, before the society we live in and the hopes for a better world we begin our lives with. Before this picture of life, Christ encourages his disciples not to give up, but to love; he encourages action before despondency and despair.

His words are all the more significant because Christ speaks these words just before his own death or as he refers to it in the Gospel, his hour of glory. He does not allow the horror he is about to undergo to shake his trust in his Father, nor does he permit it to blind him to the meaning and purpose of his life; he does not allow the suffering and death he is about to undergo to tell him what he had done was all a waste of time. His words, his teaching, has seemingly all fallen on deaf ears, but still he trusts that the will of His Father is being fulfilled in him and that he will bring about the salvation of all for whom he lays down his life.

He does not succumb to this great temptation we all face in faith, to settle for a security in life or to settle for a secure place in this world; he does not opt instead for the comfort that this world can offer. There is a temptation in the face of the constant pressure this world and its values can exert on us to accommodate our faith to the values of this world because it is less hassle or because we no longer see the point in trying for anything more because, our soul having been exhausted, we can no longer be certain there is a reason to believe in anything more.

Everyone knows the tiredness that can come upon us, when our love seems to have reached its limits and we feel we have no more to give. When our tempers are frayed, our patience is exhausted, our hopes are finally dashed; that was when Christ kept loving to the end. It is when he tells us to come to him to find rest and to have our faith and hope and love renewed. Without him we can do nothing; with him all becomes possible for us once again.

Canon Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton

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