By Wissam Nasrallah, Chief Operations Officer
These past two years resembled living in a very long and dark tunnel. With every new crisis, we hoped it would be the last and we would start seeing the light at the end. But as crises piled up, we realized that there might not be a light at the end of tunnel anytime soon.
Instead of being overcome by despair, we realized that, in the same way Christ entered the darkness of our fallen world as “the light of men”, we need to be the light within the tunnel for those around us for “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
Practically speaking this means that instead of doing church, we need to start being church.
As “children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5) we are called to participate in the lives of others, to be present, to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This is who we are in Christ. How can we be salt if we remain in the salt cellar? How can we be light if the curtains are pulled down?
Are we to remain living in insular communities? Salt needs to be mixed with the different food ingredients to be effective and useful while light needs to be visible for it to dispel darkness.
Therefore, as priests of our Lord Jesus, let us flavor the world around us and bring about light by sharing life with and restoring hope to the communities in which we live.
Indeed, given the current circumstances in Lebanon, people need more than just a good sermon on Sunday. They need a shoulder to lean on, a friend to open up to. They want someone who can support them, listen to them, and sincerely love them.
When calamity or catastrophe hits, presence is sometimes more important than words. In other terms, instead of inviting people to church, let us take the church to people.
Let us reflect Christ and live out the Gospel with both words and time. Presence and proclamation of the gospel go hand in hand.
Therefore, in a world of division we need be agents of reconciliation. In world of distraction and “pathological busyness”, to use the term coined by Ronald Rolheiser, we need to have presence – real presence. In world of one night stands we are to be invested emotionally. In a world of compliance and minimum requirements, we are to love in a confounding way. In a world of programs, efficiency and speed, we need to invest in impractical and burdensome relationships. Indeed, our world tells us to spend time with those who can get us somewhere. Jesus tells us to spend time with those who will slow us down.
The truth is that living like this is costly, but loving others the way Jesus did was never meant to be easy or cheap. Because we, God’s collective Church, have experienced God’s presence and love in our lives first, we are all called and enabled to share that love with others.
If we really understand the full implication of the Gospel in our lives, then we cannot be spectators of church. The gospel changes us inside out by transforming us into a nation of priests who are bringing the hope and restoration that is in Christ to people – for the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining!