Why do we belong to this church?

09-30-2018Weekly ReflectionFather Prince Raja

Our world is a challenging world and in this world we are all called to be prophets of God. We are invited to announce the good news of God's deep love for each one of us. It is indeed important that we manifest this call in our behavior and daily activities and more importantly through our words. A prophet is one who stands for the values of God against the values of the world.

There are two words that have featured very strongly in the study of religion since the 1990's: 'Believing' and 'Belonging'. In 1994, a British sociologist of religion (Grace Davie) published a book on the rise of secularism in Britain since 1945. She called her book, Believing without Belonging. There have been other books and articles on the same theme using the words, 'Believing' and 'Belonging'. More recently, another British scholar (Abby Day) in her book, Believing in Belonging, suggests that actually people believe because they want to belong to a group that gives them identity.

This whole discussion invites us to ask ourselves – those of us who are believers and belong to the Catholic Church: Why do we belong to this church?

Our liturgy of today invites us to understand the meaning of discipleship and the need of our fidelity to the Lord as his chosen persons. The scripture today reminds us of our noble heritage and of our duty to embrace our traditions and pass them forward to others. In the Gospel Jesus articulates the broad principles of discipleship. He says that anyone who is not against us is for us. What is important is the service of humanity.

In the First Reading of today we hear God directing Moses to choose seventy helpers and bring them to the tent where the Ark of God was kept. God now takes some of the Spirit of Moses and bestows it on the seventy. Moses refuses to interfere with people doing God's work. He wishes that God would grant the Holy Spirit to everyone and continue that good work in others.

The Liturgy of the Word on this 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time offers us two stories of the struggle between believing and belonging: one from the time of Moses and the other from the time of Jesus.