Laying down one’s life

How easy it must have been for those early Christians, who only had to worry about martyrdom.

Martyrdom of St Sebastian,
Caracciolo

That’s the thought that flitted through my head a few days ago. I suppose it’s an occupational hazard that I imagine what it was like in the Church throughout time. I suppose too that I occasionally romanticize, because of course it wasn’t easy for the early Christians. I doubt it has ever been easy for people trying to be good in a broken world.

Some of it is the easy stuff, like we heard in the reading from Ephesians last Sunday: do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. OK, do not debauch, check. I can handle that. Now what’s with all this “be good to one another” stuff?

We’re supposed to be generous and not attached to possessions, but today it feels like there isn’t enough to go around. The temptation is to hoard what I have, and we’re made to feel stupid when what we have is taken from us, or when we don’t have enough.

We’re supposed to seek the voice and the will of God. It is noisy out here and there are other voices that are prettier and easier to take.

We’re supposed to be kind and compassionate. Not just to people like us, not just to people we agree with, but to everybody.  Even when we are threatened and fearful. And very few of us wants to do that.

We are supposed to be grateful, and that is one that comes easier to me. There have been things to fear in every age, and I wonder if what troubles ours is that no one knows what their place is or how to stay there. For most of human history people knew who they were (even if who they were was nobody). Their roles were assigned to them at birth.

Now anyone can be anything, and the price we pay for this glorious freedom is the fear that someone else will take what we want. The competition that used to be reserved for satisfying basic needs is now a way of life in a civilization of strivers. It makes it harder to be good. But it’s worth it.

So I am grateful, even if it is difficult to do what is asked of me in a broken world. I am grateful, even when I am called, in my own way, to lay down my life.

Brothers and sisters:
Watch carefully how you live,
not as foolish persons but as wise,
making the most of the opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Therefore, do not continue in ignorance,
but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.
And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery,
but be filled with the Spirit,
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts,
giving thanks always and for everything
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. – Ephesians 5: 5-12

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1 Response to Laying down one’s life

  1. Pingback: the fifty-third formica friday | see preston blog

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