- First become (change the way they lived; repent; act like they belonged there).
- Then believe (change the way they thought; have faith; believe like one of the community).
- Then they could belong (because they had behaved and believed, God forgave them and made them His child. Then they were welcomed into God’s family).
Powerful strangers can also be unsettling and troubling. And powerful strangers can have their own hostilities and have their own way within which they cause you to question who you are and where you’re from. That is a way within which, for me, the notion of saying hello to “here” requires a fairly robust capacity to tell the truth about what is really going on. That can be very difficult.Padraig, a practitioner of conflict resolution speaks eloquently about the inclusion of language, “we infuse words with a sense of who we are. So therefore, you’re not just saying a word; you’re communicating something that feels like your soul. And it might even be your soul. So the choice of a particular word is really, really important. There is what is in the text and — whether that’s a sacred text or the text of somebody’s life — and then there is the lenses through which you read and interpret that. There is the way within which there’s a generosity of listening. And when somebody says something, to try to figure out, “Did I hear them correctly?” because sometimes I’ve heard what I want to hear, and I might be completely wrong.” For whatever reason, be it a past hurt, fear of commitment or previous disappointment in community, many people chose to walk the path of faith alone. There may be a desire to belong, but it is overshadowed by an inability to trust or find a suitable community that ticks all of the boxes. However, Pope Francis suggests that "we are not Christians as an individual, each one on his own,” he said. “None of us become Christians on our own," but rather “we owe our relationship with God to so many others who passed on the faith, who brought us for Baptism, who taught us to pray and showed us the beauty of the Christian life.” “We are Christians not only because of others, but together with others” he pointed out, describing the Church as “a large family that welcomes us and teaches us to live as believers and disciples of the Lord.” Are we creating safe places for belonging to grow, places where different points of view are heard? Are people willing to speak or is there a sense of pervading fear and silencing of difference? How well do you welcome the powerful stranger called here?
Copyright 2019 Nathan Ahearne
About the Author
Nathan Ahearne's faith journey has helped to shape the person he is today as husband, father, teacher and formator of young people. His vocation and faith are strengthened and nourished by those he encounters in service and contemplation. Nathan is a creative thinker and likes to roll up his sleeves and see projects through to completion. He is a John 10:10 fan. Read more at Expressions of Interest.