Friday, 21 September 2012

No Silver Or Gold, But Instead...

The great thing about having a personal Blog is that I can use it to express my personal thoughts.  I don’t necessarily have to go to the extent of doing research, getting sources, and the like.  My analytical personality, as a rule, does tend to lead me to naturally do some research and to provide sources in my Blog posts, to support the opinions that I express; but I don’t have to.

This is my personal Blog.  I don’t formally represent anyone, except myself, and everyone who reads my Blog knows that.  So, provided I don’t do anything silly, like post a video or a cartoon that will lead to two weeks of outrage amongst Muslims; or photo’s that will incur the wrath of the royal family; I should generally be okay with expressing my opinion here.

This particular post on my Blog, is one of those.  It has no research material whatsoever to support it.  It is entirely my personal opinion.  It is based on a thought that popped into my head yesterday evening, while I was sitting in my garden watching the bird life, after Vespers.

For some strange and inexplicable reason, a song we used to sing at Sunday school in the Anglican Church, when I was very young, popped into my head.  I don’t know how old I was when we sang the song at Sunday school. If I had to guess, I would say that I was 6 or 7 years of age.

I can remember the tune for the song quite clearly.  I can also remember how we use to happily clap and sing along.  It was a favourite song of ours.  But I do not remember all the words.  The only words that I do remember are these: “Silver and gold have I none said he, but such as I have give I unto thee…

It’s amazing that I should, completely out of the blue, for no reason at all, suddenly remember that Sunday school song, nearly 40 years later.  Although I do not remember all the words of the song, I immediately remembered exactly what the song was about. 

I wonder how many of you have figured it out yet?

The song is about the story of St Peter, outside the temple, when the lame man asked him for a donation – Acts 3: 1 – 8:

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.  And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple, which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple.  Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms.  And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, "Look at us."  And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them.  But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."  And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.  And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

Two thoughts flowed from my recalling this Sunday school song.

The first thought was about the tremendous value of those Sunday school classes.  I can remember so many bible stories today, precisely because of my Sunday school experience.  The singing of songs, dancing, acting out the bible stories and hearing the bible stories told to us, all led to these being embedded in my memory:  Jonah and the Whale; Zacheus being called down from the tree; and many others. 

In comparison, my wife’s experience is that she does not remember these bible stories as readily as I do.  Why, well she did not have Sunday school classes like this.  She remembers more formal Catechism classes.  She was born, baptised and grew up Catholic.  Is there a lesson here for us?

My second thought is on a completely different track.

I sometimes get the impression that the Church has just become one big charity organisation.  The Church is being closed out and side lined.  The world is pushing the Church, and Christianity as a whole, into focussing on doing works of charity…

Sadly, many Catholics seem to share this view, though they may not explicitly say it.  The primary mission of the Church, for many Catholics, it seems, is to make people feel that they are part of a loving community.  A community that accepts people for what they are, without any prejudice.  A community that comforts those who suffer, takes active measures to help those less privileged individuals, treats all people as equals and with dignity.  

For many the Church is a community that empowers individuals to achieve their objectives and defends people from oppression, while also encouraging and enabling self-actualisation.  You can see where else this could and does all lead… ordination of woman, gay marriage, acceptance of divorce, Holy Communion for non-Catholics, IVF, euthanasia …

The problem with this approach is that, while the Church must do works of charity, for reasons we all understand only to well, such as the fact that faith without works is dead, the primary mission of the Church is to introduce people to Jesus.  The Church must lead people into a close personal relationship with Jesus.  The Church must get people to repent and believe the good news. 

The Church must, first and foremost, help individuals to save their souls!  Everything else is secondary!  Like St Peter, the Church must be saying continuously:  Silver and gold have I none, but I have JESUS who I lovingly give I unto thee, to heal you (read spiritual healing)!!!

But the world, and sadly many Catholics along with the world, don’t want Jesus anymore… they want the silver and gold… (Not necessarily money, but material and instant solutions to our experiences in our journey through this world... contraceptives, abortions, gay marriage, assisted suicide, woman priests, plastic surgery, the death penalty, war to fight injustices and overthrow cruel governments...)  There is no time and space for the love of Jesus and waiting patiently for the reward of happily sharing eternal life with Him. 

No comments:

Post a Comment