Mumbai Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) | THE CHRISTIAN JOURNEY


6th July, 2016
Mrs. Leela Moraes (Courtesy Charisindia Magazine) THE CHRISTIAN JOURNEY
            Along life’s journey, there seem to be steps or stages that characterise our way; no matter who we are. It seems almost inevitable that we wander and fumble around blindly in the herd. God leads us to begin to thirst for Him. We leave the crowd and seek for meaning and purpose in life.

            The Good shepherd who waits patiently for His sheep beckons to every seeker and searches for us- to bring hope and joy to our lives. If we hearken to His voice and obey, then we become followers of Jesus. In His mercy and tender love, He teaches us His ways and disciplines our lives, bit by bit transforming us.

            He calls us to Himself and enters our world, bringing strength, hope, courage, and above all; wisdom to remain with Him. He also challenges us to go out and bring others to the Way- that they too may have life and life in all its abundance.

            It is challenging to realise that the Master expects us to evangelise, no matter who we are. We are reminded that to counsel the doubtful and instruct the ignorant are spiritual works of mercy. The seed that was scattered abroad has found good soil in our lives. May we allow that seed to sprout and take root in our hearts as the Word of God begins to enlighten our lives. The process of growth of the seed into a plant and then into a tree is also one that results in good fruit- the fruit of the Spirit.

            In particular, it reminds me of the fig tree planted in the vineyard (Lk.13:6-9). A fig tree in the centre of the vine bushes is what every Christian is! Every Spirit-led Christian must bear fruit that will last. The fruit on the fig tree would be the food for the birds of prey in the vineyard- ultimately protecting the grapes.

             The Church exists to evangelise (E.N. Para 14) and a Christian bears fruit when his or her life brings forth other fruit –bearing Christians. “The fidelity of the baptised is a primordial condition for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the Church’s mission to the world. In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of a Christian. (CCC 2044)65
            Perhaps, we could reflect on these stages in our lives as well as those of our fellow Christians.
  1. Onlookers: This is a stage when the good seed has been sown. Yet it gets choked or blown away or simply lies on the wayside. We or perhaps those whom we are trying to reach, are onlookers or spectators– part of the crowd, but not involved in any way. At this stage, which I like to see as the CONCERN stage, someone prays to the Lord of the harvest and a stirring takes place in indifferent hearts. The journey of faith takes a different turn.
  2. Seekers: A moment of grace dawns in our lives when the seed finds good soil. In the process of evangelisation, this is the CONTACT stage. It could be a smile, an openness to listen, an acceptance to attend a retreat or a mission, or even a crisis that turns our gaze to look for a saviour. The seed begins to live!
  1. Believers: Once the Word of God finds a favourable response in terms of a positive attitude, then the seed begins to take root. In this stage, called the CONTENT stage; we begin to believe and come to terms with the gospel message. We are no longer mere seekers, but we believe in Jesus as Saviour, Master and Lord.
  1. Followers: Just believing is inadequate and we find ourselves stuck in this phase. There is a definite call to the stage of COMMITMENT wherein the seed that has taken root must begin to bring forth shoots and bear leaves and flowers. This is the phase of growth in which God’s precious Word enlightens our lives and we follow Jesus even when it begins to get tough and challenging.
  1. Disciples/Christ Transmitters: If you wish to be my disciples, take up your cross and follow me (Lk.14/Jn 15). This is what every follower of Jesus hears sooner or later. Living the Christian life is a call to fruit bearing. It is the phase of COMMUNICATION- a deep two- way listening as well as learning, living and talking about Jesus. He who said, “Come to me” (Mt.11:28), also said, “Go out to the whole world” (Mt.28:19). We are challenged to show forth the fruit of the Holy Spirit by living holy lives obedient to the Master’s call.
  1. Witnesses/Christ Bearers: It is in this context that the Master comes looking for fruit:-fruit that will last. This, in the process of Christian living and loving, is the stage of COMMISSION. True and distinct fruit bearing is when a Christian’s life brings into existence other Christians who will lead people from being just seekers ...all the way to being witnesses. The keeper of the vineyard said to the owner, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it” (Lk. 13:8). The Lord Jesus Himself strengthens and empowers our lives by the grace of His Holy Spirit. In this year of Mercy, He gives us yet another chance to be fruitful.
  1. Christ Replicas: It is our privilege to help sow the seeds of faith and it is our duty to watch over them and see them grow to full maturity. In this stage of COMMUNION, we enter into the life of Christ, accepting His challenge to serve unflinchingly and irrevocably. Ultimately, we become ‘other Christos’ in this world. Jesus who said ,“I am the light of the world” (Jn.8:12) also says to us today, “You are the light of the world” (Mt.5:14). The light dispels the darkness and He becomes powerfully present to the world.
May we be able to say like St. Paul did, “If I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me, yes; woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (NKJV I Cor. 9:16)