‘I was intrigued, when visiting a Neocatechumenal community in Yigo, a young girl said to me, ‘I prefer not to be known as a Christian at class because being a Christian means being different and I do not want to be different. I can’t bear being singled out!”
At that moment, I realized how true it is that today to be a Christian is to be different. Virginity is laughed at. Very few enter into sacramental marriage and prefer to shack up for years. Having many children is ridiculed. Avoiding paying taxes is a sport. Fun is sin and church is boring.
What has happened? There is an eastern tale which can help us understand. It is taken from The Cyber Desert 1997 by Marina M. Robb,
“Once upon a time there was a Sultan who was good and just. This Sultan had a Vizier (Chief adviser) who was also good and just. The Vizier also happened to be an astrologer. One day the Vizier said to the Sultan he had seen a sign in the heavens which said that it was going to rain “crazy” water, and whosoever drinks from that water will become crazy.
All the people in the land will drink from that water and they will lose their reasoning, they will no longer have a good sense of anything, they will not be able to tell right from wrong, nor truth from falsehood, or sweet from sour, not even justice from injustice.
When the Sultan heard this, he turned to the Vizier and said, “Since everybody will lose their minds we must take care not to lose ours, for otherwise how will we make just judgments?” The Vizier told him that he was quite right and that he should order that the good water they now drank was collected and kept in special reservoirs, so that they wouldn’t drink from the ruined water and make crazy and unjust judgments, but rather just ones, as they were obliged to. That is what happened.
A little while later it really did rain, and the rain that came down really was crazy water, and the people really did become crazy. The poor things no longer had any idea of what was happening to them. They thought that falsehood was truth, good was bad, and injustice was justice.
However, the Sultan and his Vizier drank from the good water which they had stored away and so did not lose their reasoning, but rather judged everybody with justice and righteousness. However everybody took this the wrong way, and they were not pleased with the Sultan’s and the Vizier’s judgments. They shouted that they had been wronged, they nearly caused a revolution.
Some time later, when they had seen more than enough, the Sultan and the Vizier lost their courage, and the Sultan said to the Vizier, “Those poor fellows really have lost their minds, and they see everything the wrong way around. If we carry on like this they will kill us because we want to judge them correctly with justice. Therefore my dear Vizier, let’s throw away the good water and let us also drink the crazy water. We will become like them and then they’ll understand us and they’ll love us again.”
That is what happened. They also drank from the crazy water, they lost their minds and started to make crazy and unjust judgments, and all the people were happy and congratulated the Sultan for his wisdom.”
This story sounds very real because it is a true story. It is what is happening now. Even a quick look at the media is enough to convince you that may call bad good and good bad!
The only way out is not to throw the small amount of water that we still have in the reservoir of faith. This is why I admire the Pope. He keeps believing in the moral standards of Christianity even when everyone seems to have gone skewed. He keeps insisting to continue drinking from this good water, and tells us to call others to drink from it. Drinking this healthy water will refresh us, us and them!
The Epistle to Diognetus is a well-crafted letter extolling the virtues of Christianity over paganism. It belongs to the very early Christian literature. Look how Diognetus expresses himself.
“For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe… … They dwell in their own countries, but live as foreigners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if aliens. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.
They marry, as do all others; they have children, but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. …”
Yes, let us become Christians!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.