Christianity is not a philosophy, a lifestyle or a moral code. Christianity, true Christianity, is a close encounter with Christ and when this happens, our philosophy of life, the way we live and our moral code undergo a radical change. Speaking to a pilgrimage of Augustinian Nuns, Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo said that an encounter with Christ is so life changing that it makes us take on His attributes. he encouraged the religious to dig deep into their spiritual life and, through introspection form a life and behaviour changing relationship with God which would set a challenge or ‘crisis’ to the rest of society.
Quoting the scriptures, Bishop Grech noted that Christ had an arresting effect on those who met him. In the Greek, the word ‘crisis’ meant the act of separation, and Bishop Grech said that if Christians do not cause a ‘crisis’ in their environment, their presence would not make a difference. He said that one of the biggest challenges facing the Church today is helping humankind find its spiritual soul.
The truth within
The truth, observed Bishop Grech echoing St Augustine, lies within ourselves, deep in our hearts where God resides. This, he said is the reason why we need to nourish our spiritual life by delving deep into our heart. Bishop Grech said that whatever negativity we encounter on this introspective experience, the end result would be a Godly encounter which will make all the trials worth while and us part of the plan of salvation.
Mary, the epitome of introspection
Bishop Grech recalled the Marian Year being celebrated in the Gozo Diocese. He said that the Blessed Virgin had learnt to create an internal space where she communicated with God and as a result, her life was transformed in the service of God. This, said Bishop Grech, is the essence of the experience of God. St Joseph too, Mary’s humble spouse played a part in this journey which fostered the reciprocal nearness to God of the couple.
Walking as a community
Bishop Grech said that the fostering of reciprocal proximity to God is particularly important to those in religious communities. In the community, the religious look out for each other. If spirituality is missing, said Bishop Grech, the religious will only have an exoskeleton, a semblance of Christian life. “Our behaviour belies who we are. The quality of our actions points to the level of our contemplative spirit” said Bishop Grech. This, he said, ties in with the need to create a ‘crisis’ for, without contemplative introspection, the decisions which individuals take, and therefore society takes, will be far from the will of God and not respectful of human life. For this reason, concluded the Bishop of Gozo, religious must cause a ‘crisis’ in society by setting up an example for others to emulate.