The Voice of My Faith

Crossing The River

“If you want to cross the river, you must be willing to leave the shore”. We can find much wisdom, courage, and strength in these words:

“If you want to cross the river, you must be willing to leave the shore.”

In this quote lies the image of the river and the shore, the image of someone who wants to cross.
Crossing a river or any body of water is not always easy. One could comfortably stay on one side, casually walk along its banks, and hope that a bridge will eventually appear, making the crossing easier. If we put this into the perspective of the disciples and the early Christians, they could have postponed proclaiming the good news in order to be absolutely sure that the mission of Jesus was indeed genuine. But if we look at this in regards to the early days of the Church’s formation, the Acts of the Apostles tells us something completely different.

Jesus and Beyond

The captivating way that Jesus lived, the way he loved, his faith and the depth of his forgiveness drew many people to him. Out of this, the first Christian community in Jerusalem grew. In the beginning, this community was comprised of devoted Jews who were friends of Jesus and committed to following this new faith journey. Greek-speaking Jews, from both inside and outside of Jerusalem soon joined the Early Christian community. After some time, conflict began to arise from within. It was obvious to many that the Greek-speaking members were being marginalised, even criticised. In an attempt to resolve this issue, the community selected seven Hellenistic deacons of non-Jewish origin. Those at the top of the list were Stephen and Philip. Stephen, of course, was stoned to death by the Jewish community for his belief in Christ, therefore becoming the first Christian martyr. What followed was the severe persecution by Saul of Tarsus of the early Church in Jerusalem. These historical events make up the Acts of the Apostles.

Dear Brothers and Sisters

I wonder how Christian history would look today if, at that moment, the followers of Jesus had simply remained on the Jewish side of the river, instead of crossing over? I don’t know, but the author of the Gospel of Luke continues the story. In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear about another follower, Philip. He flees with others and arrives in Samaria. His enthusiasm for Jesus does not diminish, and with his entire being, he passionately proclaims the mystery of Christ Jesus. Through his words and actions, Philip convinces and touches the hearts of people and they come to believe that what he says is authentic, real and true.
I believe that if we want to follow Jesus, we must cross the river of the everyday to the other side. In order to do this, we must have courage, and trust. Courage to leave the shore, willingly let go of the familiar and voluntarily open ourselves up to the challenges of life. Life is not a nicely wrapped package, free from worries or trials. Each one of us carries a burden, and lives with worries and fears. It is a part of life and we have the choice to live life and accept it or to turn the other way.

Our Willingness

Those who seek God and embrace His presence often feel compelled to renounce the materialistic excesses of this world, including the pursuit of power and influence. This kind of commitment requires a willingness to trust in God and to encounter Him, God who promises to be there for us and with us.

You might ask: What is there to gain when we open ourselves to God?

We will find land on the other side of the river. In other words, we discover the source of life that never runs dry.

We find heaven, or heaven finds us. It is Jesus Christ who leads the way. He crosses the river of space and time to prepare a heavenly dwelling for us.

Dear Friends

Living as a Christian does not imply that we should live a life detached from the material world. On the contrary. God blesses us with a life, filled with abundance, and love that should be tangible and existential in our lives. In the Fourth Eucharistic Prayer, we seek an image for this God. This almighty and invisible God presents himself to as a loving mother or a good father.

Today, we celebrate Mother's Day. It is in a mother's womb, where a growing life absorbs love, joy, and hope - all the gifts bestowed upon them. It is not enough to express gratitude for a mother’s caring presence on just one day. Every day should be a day of thanksgiving because through loving mothers and good fathers, we can find a glimpse of heaven. Jesus sends us the power of the Holy Spirit to experience this transformation. The many diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit are like strong wings that help us to transcend the limitations of our finite existence. Jesus must leave his friends. He has to cross the river of time to be with us in a new way.

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Mothers and fathers must let go of their children and entrust them to make their own experiences with personal responsibility. The passion and dedication of loving mothers and good fathers provide their children with strong roots to cross the river and go out into the world. The devotion and commitment of loving mothers and good fathers give their children wings. Wings which are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, instilling in them the courage and curiosity to overcome the everyday rivers of life and embrace the gift of heaven.

Thank you to all mothers for giving the gift of life.

Praise be to Jesus Christ. Amen.

Your, Fr. Kurt