The Christian is also called to think differently and to be different. Why? Because Jesus is different… radically different.
So many of us are just copycats. It is easier to flow with the current than to swim against it. So when you are different, expect criticism and misunderstandings.
Stephen and Lorraine are a couple who are open to life and want to have the children that God wants to give them. They shun contraceptives. Their biggest tension when Lorraine is pregnant again, is when they need to inform their parents that another baby is on the way. "They always become so upset!" she told me.
Her mother argues: "My dear, you should not let the Church enter into your bedroom! Everyone uses contraception today".
Rita, a very successful career girl in Foreign Affairs, decided to follow her vocation and become a cloistered Carmelite nun. For months she was snubbed by her parents and siblings. "It is crazy to lock yourself into a prison for all your life. You have been brainwashed." But Rita followed His call to be different.
Jackie forgave her unfaithful husband because she believed in the sacrament of matrimony. Because of this, many of her friends thought that she was 'naïve and irresponsible'. "Forgiveness, my foot! If he did that to me, I would kick him out of the house. He does not deserve your trust anymore. Even Catholics divorce today, dear. Wake up."
Victor, a friend of mine, refused to co-sign a court case with his brothers and sisters against another family who had swindled them out of their business because he claimed that Jesus taught us to love our enemies. He was never invited to any more family gatherings. "You are only creating problems with your religion stuff", he was told.
Helen passed from one event of suffering to another within the span of a few months: her mother died, her husband died suddenly, her daughter committed suicide, and now she has been told she has cancer. She kept trusting God, saying always "God is good. God knows what He is doing". Many made fun of her! They called her 'insensitive' and 'tactless'. "She has no feelings…she must not have cared", someone said about her.
Lydia, who openly stood by her conviction to remain a virgin until she is married was teased and ridiculed by her classmates. The word 'lesbian' used to float around her when she was in College.
These are real life stories, People I know personally. Their convictions forced them to be different. They suffered the consequences.
But they do not mind. They know that what the wise man said is true : 'Assent to honor and acclaim and you will lose your freedom'.
They know above all that Jesus is not safe. And so neither are we called to be safe!
Love itself is not safe. Even a cursory look at our Master on the cross will teach you this!
He dared to be different. So they, the copycats, crucified him
Perhaps our 2004 Lenten prayer can be something like this : Lord, teach us to be different, teach us NOT to safe!
(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.