PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Monday, July 31, 2006

 

Letter to Timothy


Dear Timothy,

Never look up to people or you'll see how the stars of heaven fall. Christians have Jesus Christ, no less, to look up to. Your baseline is your personal relationship with the Master Himself. Nothing else will do, not even the person you consider to be extremely holy. But if you must need an inspiration, no one can beat the Virgin Mary in terms of discipleship, she who first showed us the way.

And if you need to look up to people, the right attitude should be to look up to their downside - look at their very weakness was used by God to lift them out of the mess (ICor. 1).

Look at the apostles' beginnings and wonder how you'll ever get inspired. All unqualified, all without credibility of their own. Matthew the tax collector? Who's that! Simon the wishy-washy? Never mind. His brother Andrew? Huh? Paul, the former persecutor of Christians? Ugh. The fishermen? Oh. Thaddeus, the cousin of the carpenter from Nazareth? No way. Simon the Zealot, who reeked of fundamentalist proselytizing? No way.

If these apostles did their work today, no one would lend an ear! But you know the rest of the story. One becomes the first priest of the Catholic Church, most of them write at least one book of the Bible, another becomes the patron saint of Spain, another of India. Etc. Etc.

It's when we are weak that we are strong. The one great requirement - and this is easier said than done - is the act of surrender, taking that quantum leap into the dark, having faith in an unseen and mysterious God. You need to open up for His grace, for only by doing so can you be filled up. The image of an empty vessel or a piece of clay waiting to be molded is the image of a true Christian. A Christian should surrender everything, especially his weaknesses, for God to carry out His work more fully. That's the only time he can become powerful, the only time he has bragging rights.

In the early part of my walk, I, too, saw the need for role models. While they were instrumental in my being evangelized to Christianity, eventually there came a time when I needed to be my own yardstick. I've had my great role models and I saw them all falling from grace. I'm not saying all role models are bound to fail, and when they fall, that is that; it's just that we have enough and a far better benchmark who had known how it was to have feet of clay yet did not sin at all. Had I chosen to base my faith on other people's strengths and virtues, I would have drowned with them all.

7.13.2000


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