Sunday Reflection with Father Terry Tastard - 20 June 2010

Holy  Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church

Jesus asks his disciples Who do the crowds say I am?  (Luke 9.18).  After the feeding of the five thousand his name must have been on everybody’s lips.  His preaching and teaching were making an impact.  It is a hinge moment.  Jesus prays deeply as he seeks to know the Father’s will.  Soon, he will take the inner group of disciples up the mount of transfiguration for a time of more intense prayer.  Who he is, how people see him, how to respond to their expectations – these are inescapable questions as he enters into his destiny as the Messiah.

Strangely enough, we face the same question today.  Who do people say we are?  Several best-selling books written recently have attacked religion.  We might wonder whether hatred of belief in God hides a secret fascination with God and his people.  Perhaps.  One common feature of such books is that they portray believers as joyless, frothing at the mouth fundamentalists.  I don’t recognize this picture in the Christian people that I know.  I look at them and I see people who quietly help others in need, who enjoy laughter together, who find encouragement through Christ as he comes to us in the Bread of Life.  Even the language of sin that we use is a commitment to growth through God’s grace, overcoming the narrow selfishness that all of us have to struggle against from time to time.

The very fact that Christianity attracts hostility is significant, showing that the Church is still a force in the world and that this bothers the critics.  They expected that the Church would wither away, that belief in Christ would vanish.  They have been proved wrong.  Even so, this is a difficult time for the Church.  We have not always lived up to our high ideals.  The attacks, the criticism, have their effect and sometimes drown out the message of the gospel.  How are we to renew our faith?  How are we to present Christ to others? What does it mean to live Christian life in these present times? 
To find the answer to those questions we need to go back to the reply Peter made to Jesus:  ‘You are the Christ of God.’  Our witness will falter if we believe that Jesus was just another prophet, one man among many.  But to follow Jesus because he is the Christ, the Chosen One, the Messiah and Son of God, means that we will always be renewed by the strength, hope and love that only God can give.  Only the fullness of faith in Christ can show us how we can enter into communion with God.  Christ is the bridge between time and eternity, between God and man, between our frail human lives and the very source of life itself.  Christ shows us that the divine is not an impersonal force, but a God who knows us and loves us and calls us to be his people.

As we hear today from Galatians 3, in Christ we are remade as members of the People of God.  Distinctions of social standing should have no place among us.  As with other ideals we achieve this imperfectly.  But to be the people of God is not a source of complacency for us.  Rather it is a constant challenge, a reminder that we have something to live up to.  The critics of the Church will always be there to remind us of this. 

Fr Terry is Parish Priest at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Brook Green, west London.   His new book:  Ronald Knox and English Catholicism is published by Gracewing at £12.99 and is available on Amazon, on ICN's front page. To read Sr Gemma Simmonds' review on ICN see:

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