How often do we whine about our youngsters not coming to church! We then devise ways to 𝒂𝒕𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒕 them to church as if church is an amusement park which just needs a few enticing upgrades – however evanescent they may be – for the pews to occupy. Their coming to church is predicated not just on vernacularizing the Liturgy and transcending the ethnic constraints – which are surely important – but more strongly and vividly on the witness those who are regular to church exhibit.
The pressing question in fact is how have those who are consistent to church influenced those who aren’t, especially in dealing with the stark realities of life? If it’s only the impartation of the heartless regurgitation of a few hymns, prayers and scriptural verses then it’s not only insubstantial but also a dangerous representation of Church. It reduces faith to the realm of verbiage and abstraction.
Fundamentally, it boils down to how gracious and transfigurative we are in dealing with the ordeals of our day to day lives by virtue of attending church. This becomes the quintessential matter of observation for those staying at bay from church. Right from fulfilling the least of our household chores to executing our most personal as well as social responsibility are taken into account.
What does this suggest? It suggests that Christian faith is neither a matter of ostentatious programs nor superfluous talks but essentially of personal embodiment; “𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘞𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘮𝘦 𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘥𝘸𝘦𝘭𝘵 𝘢𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘶𝘴.”(John 1:14). We are to 𝒅𝒓𝒂𝒘 people to Christ not 𝒍𝒖𝒓𝒆 them. Christ draws people to Himself; it’s Satan who lures. It’s vital to note that even Christ could truly draw people to Himself only after being lifted up on the Cross (John 12:32). That underscores the very inevitability of embracing the Cross.
We can only draw people to Christ by enfleshing Him, by becoming His body, by becoming Church. Until we become Church to others we can’t draw them to that physical space where each of our liturgical existence is communally expressed, manifested and transformed. Thus St. Ephrem writes; “Let your body be a church and your mind a glorious temple. Let your mouth be a censer and your lips a smoke of incense. Let your tongue be a minister to appease the Godhead.”
Any substitute to enfleshing Christ is to de-incarnate Christ and toss away His Cross.
~ 𝐃𝐚𝐲𝐫𝐨𝐲𝐨 𝐅𝐫. 𝐁𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐥
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