31 Aug 2015
Our faith touches every aspect of life. There’s no part of life which is untouchable by our faith—unless we let it be untouched. So often today we here the call for “relevance!” “Make the faith relevant to our lives. Make the faith relevant to youth. Make the faith relevant to . . . “ Of course, hidden behind that call for “relevance” is, perhaps, the unawareness that our faith already touches every aspect of life.
Perhaps what’s needed is not so much a call for “relevance,” but a call for “conversion”—a conversion of the way we approach life; both the parts of life we can change and the parts we can’t change. Now, in St Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he brings up the subject of death. And, obviously, that part of life we cannot change. But we can change our approach to death.
St Paul speaks with the Thessalonians so that they “may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” St Paul is not saying, “Don’t grieve when somebody dies.” It’s normal and good to cry and be touched. Instead, he’s saying, “Don’t let the death of others, or your own fear of death, destroy you. Live not in fear, but in hope. Change the way you approach death.”
We can’t change the reality of death; but we can change our approach to it. We can convert our hearts and minds to see the relevance of faith in the matter of death. But there are aspects of life we can change. For instance, how we relate to other people.
Here we have Jesus in the synagogue suggesting that Naaman the Syrian is more favored by God than the Jews sitting right there. Now, to their ears, that’s like Jesus saying to us that some repentant murderer is more favored by God than us who go to Mass all the time and have never killed anybody. It doesn’t sit right with us, and it didn’t sit right with the Jews in that synagogue.
The Jews wanted their faith to be made “relevant;” to support themselves and their way of worship and living. But Jesus was saying, in effect: “Don’t make your faith relevant. Instead, change your hearts to see that your faith is already relevant to this situation."
Our faith is already relevant to every aspect of our lives; it doesn’t matter who we are and what we’re dealing with. But it takes a lifelong conversion of heart to see that and to believe it. Our faith is fine and good; it’s our hearts, minds and attitudes that need the change.