Religion

The great chain of witnesses

Father Noel Clarke: If we believe that Jesus is worth knowing, we will bring others into his loving presence by our quiet witness, and in that way, the Christian faith grows and there will never be an end to it

Every one of God’s people is called by God to be a witness for Christ by doing something for others with their life and with their unique gifts, which everyone has been gifted with, according to Father Noel Clarke, pastor at St. Anselm Catholic Church.

During Mass on Sunday, Clarke reminded people of their personal and corporate call to become witnesses for the Lamb of God, and to lead lives of holiness and purity. He spoke to them about God’s call and their response.

“The liturgy of the word invites us to play our own part in introducing or helping people to discover Jesus,” said the priest. “We don’t have to be great missionaries to do this. If we believe that Jesus is worth knowing, we will bring others into his loving presence by our quiet witness, and in that way, the Christian faith grows, and there will never be an end to it.”

But he reminded that no one can give what they do not have. He said it’s hard for people to share Christ with others if they themselves have not experienced him.

Clarke referenced John the Baptist introducing two of his own disciples to Jesus, and in doing so, introduced them to their new future; the disciples followed Jesus and stayed with him.

“John points away from himself to Christ. That is John’s role. This man, sent by God, runs the first introduction agency, you can call it, for those on the lookout for the Messiah. Andrew is one of the two disciples. He leaves his master, John, to follow in the footsteps of his new master, Jesus and he needs John the Baptist to point him in the right direction, to make a new start. And what John did for Andrew, Andrew does for his brother Simon. He shares his experience with Simon and tells him that he has met the Christ, and he introduces him to Jesus.”

The Catholic priest said when believers reflect on the beginning of their own Christian faith and journey, they recall the people who introduced them to Jesus. And he said access to Jesus is always mediated through other people and that everyone comes to Jesus by way of generations of Christians.

“Most of us I believe, think of a particular person who enabled us to begin our journey in faith as we can think of others who introduced us anew to Jesus. None of us go alone to Jesus. Access to Jesus is always mediated through people. Before meeting Jesus, we met first, we can say, a litany of other people. We all come to Jesus by way of generations of Christians – Christians who shared their experience of Jesus. People who were themselves introduced to Jesus by others. And so, that’s the story of Christianity. It is indeed a story of a great chain of witnesses linked through the apostles to Jesus himself.”

Clarke said the disciples asked a simple, straightforward question: “Teacher, where are you staying?”

Jesus’ answer to this question could have been given in a moment, and in a few words, but he said he did not take that route, opting instead to tell the disciples to come to him and see. The disciples asked a question; Jesus responded with an invitation.

“Instead of responding in words, Jesus offers an opportunity for the disciples to travel with him, to experience him, to walk with him, and to perhaps find what they are searching for. You and I, we come to God all the time with questions, but God gives us invitations.”

The priest said the questions are many and can be drawn from a number of different circumstances.

Questions he said many people struggle and place before God include:

Why do innocent people suffer?

In our modern day and these times, why do we have to deal with this pandemic?

Why is God so violent?

Why is the world so violent?

Why is God not hearing us?

Why is someone that I love sick?

Why can’t I find a job?

Why do our political and religious leaders fail us?

How can I protect my family?

Why am I so depressed and lonely?

Where can I look for hope?

Clarke said, as important as the questions are, God does not answer them, opting to tell his people to come, see and follow him.

“How much easier it would be if God would simply explain things to us. If God would tell us what is going to happen … if God would tell us what we want to know – but God does not tell us. God says come and see.”

The priest said God responds in this way because on the deepest level, God knows that’s what his people really need.

“What our life really requires is not information, but trust,” said Clarke. “We come to God with questions. God again responds to us with invitations. We come looking for information, God invites us to trust him. Samuel did it; Andrew and Peter did it. They all heard a call and they answered. They accepted the divine invitation to trust. In our modern day, God is not calling less than before, there is just less people answering God’s call. And so today, we pray that those who are called may have the courage to say to the Lord, with their lives, the words of Samuel: Here I am Lord, speak, your servant is listening.”

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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