Reflection & Dialogue: For God’s kingdom tradition is not enough; response to the call of Jesus is required.

In today’s gospel reading, as in many other places in the gospels, Jesus gives a clear message to his contemporaries and his own people. The promises made to the patriarchs were a great honour, and many pious Jews might believe that by reason of these promises Israel was safe, that God was bound by his promises irrespective of any response made to God’s call through Jesus. Jesus’ clear warning was that this was not so, that they could lose their status as the chosen people, a warning that was given effect by his death and resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

            An  equally clear lesson to be drawn by us from this is that one’s national tradition is not sufficient in matters relating to belief in God and in Christ. We have seen how many of the nations of the old world have lost the faith. The Church moves ahead to new nations and countries. It is too facile an answer to say that this is a matter of “coming of age” and of leaving superstition and fairy tales behind. There is a deeper dimension to faith, which is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen. Faith needs to be nourished – in the soul, in the heart, in the mind through knowledge. It is not sufficient to think that fidelity to the faith in the past, of persecutions suffered for its sake, will guarantee it in the present. A living faith is required, faith in the living God, listening to the voice of Jesus speaking now as he did to his own people while on earth.

            We have rich material for reflection here; material also for dialogue among ourselves on the response to be made to the challenges facing our belief in God, in Christ and in the Church.

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