When I first read the passages from Luke, I didn’t connect the dots to what Paul was writing, but as I reflected more I found what I think is the link. Jesus indicates that if we acknowledge Him before others, He in turn will vouch for us before the angels. If we deny Him, we in turn will be denied. But what does it mean to acknowledge Jesus? Perhaps the answer is in reflecting from Paul’s perspective of the difference between following rules and having faith.
It seems that following rules is easier than having faith. I can go through motions with my mind and emotions on autopilot in following rules, but I need to be engaged to have faith. I can complete a punch list of tasks in following laws, but I need faith to understand and accept why the acts on the list are important for me.
And acknowledging seems to me to be more than passive affirmation, but requires active manifestation. Do we acknowledge Jesus if we attend mass on Sunday and ignore those around us who are hungry? Do we acknowledge Jesus if we follow the rule of not stealing someone’s goods and then don’t act to change our economic systems so there is a fairer distribution of goods? Do we acknowledge Jesus if we refrain from physically harming another person and yet don’t act to change our society so domestic and other acts of violence are reduced?
I doubt that any of us does so consistently. I know I don’t. I find myself falling into the trap of rationalizing, of making excuses, of being insensitive, of being inactive. I have to shake off the comfort of following rules to focus on the meaning behind the rules, to act and not judge, to comfort and not condemn.
Faith is reflective action, not merely words. We manifest faith by acting on our beliefs, by living lives that are consistent with what we say is important to us, and by reflecting on our actions (or lack of actions) and questioning whether our motives and our directions are consistent with what we hear as God’s call to us. We acknowledge Jesus by following His call to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to do social justice in this life. We know that if we do we will be acknowledged by Him in the next.
And so my prayer today is to ask for the grace of a deeper reflective faith, of the courage to act consistently with my words, to follow the call of Jesus to build the kingdom of God in this world.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook