As we begin November, we head toward the elections in the USA, with all that that implies. We are surrounded by statements and actions that leave us open-mouthed at the arrogance and disrespect. Yet people do seem to believe these statements, or don’t care that they are made, leaving us questioning reality. How is it possible that…?
November in the Church should perhaps be re-named the month of unbelievable things. By tradition the preaching picks up on the Last Things – death, resurrection, heaven and hell, the Kingdom of God. Nobody believes in ‘that’ anymore! Really, after what we’ve been asked to accept lately!?!
The British are not immune to the extraordinary behaviour and cl aims: Brexit, Covid-19, immigration… We live in a society where the truth is up for grabs and conspiracy theories grow: Covid-19 is a lie, 5G towers are causing it, people campaigning on the streets of London about the babies being stored under Whitehall for the Royal Family to eat! Ironically, as soon as we search for it on social media, we are feeding the power of the theory, because our name gets attached and people who trust us begin to think it has some basis in fact – even when we say it doesn’t! The power that is being wielded without any control or truth, it seems, leaves many of us frightened, powerless, giving up or joining in.
These are by no means the first chaotic and dangerous generations that the world has seen; so the Church has for centuries challenged people each November to think about reality – what is true, what is actually going on here, what really matters? The Church calls us to find our anchor in this storm, and to be a beacon and refuge in the life of the community through these times.
So, to introduce the last in the series of biblical questions: Jesus asked, “But you, who do you say that I am?” Curiously, Jesus seems less worried about what we believe about who he is, than about the things we do and don’t do, our willingness to set ourselves aside and follow him, how we treat other people – especially the vulnerable and weak. Even so, he does ask us this question. Perhaps it is less to do with the correct answer, than a voice in the chaos that recalls us to who we really are, to our journey of faith with Jesus, to our sharing in his mission to extend the Kingdom of God, creating in the here and now, colonies, embassies, oases of justice, peace, compassion, mercy, encounter with the love of God, so that anyone can experience and find a share in real, true life.
The world makes many and competing demands about truth and allegiance. Jesus asks a question: but you, who do you say that I am?