Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day 30: Be a Light

"They said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Why do I speak to you at all? I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.’ They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he,* and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me.  And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.’ As he was saying these things, many believed in him."  -John 8:25-30

Have you ever really thought about what it would have been like to live in the time of Jesus? Meeting Jesus in a time machine kind of way would be fantastic: go back, ask him all of the nagging theological questions, come back, write a book, immediately be appointed to Fordham’s (my alma mater’s) faculty. But to live in the time of Jesus? That would be terrifying. When I read this passage, I can feel the trepidation, the lack of comprehension, the feeling of “is this guy the real deal?”

Last summer I traveled to Capadocia, Turkey, which was one of the places where early Christianity took root. It is a stunning region, full of crazy rock formations and out-of-this-world food. It also has a UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains some of its cave churches. Visiting was a startling experience. Outside, they were just unassuming cave structures, like the thousands of other structures surrounding them. But inside, they were full of amazing murals depicting the life of Christ. Christians fled to this corner of the world and had to practice their religion in secret---even adding secret exits to many of the churches. If they got caught practicing Christianity, they could be killed. And yet they did it.  

{That's a Church!}

We usually think about God and Jesus and the Resurrection and Ascension through the lens of 2014 years of The Church. The Church has made this faith incredibly socially acceptable. But let’s go back for a minute to those who walked beside Christ, to those who walked just after Christ. They were rebels, they were rule-breakers, they were people who made tremendous personal sacrifice to be with this guy:  this Holy, Blessed, Godly guy. Sure, he had done some awesome miracles and there were tremendous rumors going around about him, but with all of these lingering questions, these doubts, these threats being put out by the government, would you have believed? Would you have dropped everything and followed him? Would you have fought for him?  Would you have worshiped in a cave?

Fortunately for us, we don’t have to answer these questions. But we can talk about how we live our faith: do we hide it under a bushel or do we let it shine like the mountain on top of a hill it is meant to be? Let us be a light to the nations and the city upon a hill.

Julie Burd is 23 and from the Diocese of Pennsylvania. She lives in Leogane, Haiti 
where, when not running away from charging goats, she teach 
English at a nursing school and work in a hospital. 

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