Lagura: What price being a Christian-A A +A
In the service of the Word
Saturday, October 13, 2012
HE thought that the wonders the first disciples of Jesus did were ‘magic. Thus, in the Acts of the Apostles a magician by the name of Simon marveled at the apostles’ ability to heal the sick, give sight to the blind and to make the crippled walk. For him this was the highest form of magic. He then wanted to be one of the disciples and offered a hefty sum for the power the apostles had.(Hence, the word “simony,” i.e. buying something sacred.) Naturally Simon Magus was rebuffed, for the price of being a Christian is not to be counted in monetary terms.
A rich young man, in today’s gospel, also wanted to belong to Christ’s chosen band. He was likable: a good candidate to be one. However, when Jesus told him to “sell what he had and give to the poor” the youth balked. He turned his back to the Lord, for he was a rich man.
The early Christians saw this clearly: for their faith in the Risen Lord, as they heard it through the preaching of the apostles, they had to pay with confiscation of property, loss of honor, freedom and even life itself. For the citizens of Rome there was no other god but Caesar; to him and to him alone honor and worship should be given.
In these dangerous times the prayer meetings, especially the ‘breaking of bread’ among Christians were held in secret. To enter the ‘safe-houses’ a special password was put in place. Before one could gain entrance he or she had to recite in full the 12 important truths the apostles formulated: the Apostles’ Creed. For them it was truly an act of faith.
In the 18th century Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart paid the price for his faith by composing operatic sung masses, one of which would last for at least an hour and a half. The “Gloria” alone was nearly half an hour long, and the priest, once inspired by the heavenly music, could easily preach for 40 minutes. In this golden age of faith the faithful could bear the lengthy Eucharistic celebrations as the price for their faith.
Today, faith does not carry a fixed tag. Nevertheless, besides the wealth and its dreams thereof that one has to forego, there are other demands on our faith as we have to live it in our present world.
First, we have to grapple with such issues like the supreme value of life from conception to death, the sanctity of marriage between 1 man and 1 woman, the dignity of a person, the importance of work, the keeping holy the Day of the Lord, and our responsibility to one another as well as to the world God entrusted to us.
In his letter, Porta Fidei (the door to faith) Benedict XVI encourages us to value our faith more so in this ‘Year of Faith’ starting this week, by:
1) studying our faith (reading and understanding The Documents of Vatican II and The Catechism of the Catholic Church)
2) accept and live it
3) share it and hand it over to the next generation
One said, “Trust, then verify.” Earlier St. Anselm said, “Believe, then seek understanding.” The Pope says, “study our faith, understand and accept it, live it and transmit it to the young generation as something beautiful and valuable.
Faith in Jesus although it is no magic as Simon Magus thought, gave humanity enormous blessings. True, it has it difficulties. That is its price. But, just try “no faith.” Those who did or do so sadly find it costly, and immensely so.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 14, 2012.