- Embracing the real in faith

In a world inundated with distractions and illusions, it can be challenging to discern what is truly real. As Christians, we are called to seek the truth and embrace authenticity in all aspects of life. Recently, I had a thought-provoking experience that highlighted the stark contrast between the reality of homelessness and the façade of materialism. We explore the significance of encountering the real and how it can deepen our understanding of faith and compassion.

One Tuesday, I had the privilege of walking the streets of Sydney with a small group of students, engaging with the homeless community. Instead of traditional classroom studies, we immersed ourselves in the raw experiences of those who had fallen on hard times. By sitting down and listening to their stories, we were confronted with the harsh realities of their lives. In these interactions, we discovered a profound authenticity that is often missing from our daily routines.

Amidst the struggles, we witnessed resilience, strength, and the enduring human spirit. The homeless individuals we encountered had hit rock bottom, facing challenges most of us can hardly fathom. Yet, there was an undeniable sense of realness in their stories, their struggles, and their hopes. In their vulnerability, we found an opportunity to connect on a deeper level and witness the power of empathy and compassion. This reminded me of the woundedness of Jesus Christ. Like Christs wounds in his passion and death, they soon become opportunities for transformation. It is the same with who we are.

Just a couple of days later, I found myself attending a year 12 formal, a lavish event where students invested significant amounts of money to create an image of glamour and opulence. The stark contrast between this occasion and our time spent with the homeless was striking. It served as a poignant reminder of how easily we can become ensnared in the trappings of superficiality. We all do this. Our life choices are often shaped by what we think is the real.

But the year 12 formal was not all bad. The year 12 formal acted as a rite of passage. Marking the students transition from school into the wider world. After 12 years of study, this change does have significant meaning in the lives of students. Looking back myself, I think the formal is very small in the wider scheme of life. But, it is not until you gain some life experience and perspective that we see its meaning. We must question reality to enable us to uncover a deeper truth.

The formal event was an embodiment of the society often presents—where appearances reign supreme and material possessions become synonymous with status and success. While it can be tempting to get swept up in this illusory world, it is crucial to recognize its transient nature and how it distracts us from what is truly important.

At the end of Jesus life, Peter denies Jesus 3 times. Peter is swept up by those around him. He denies Jesus. Maybe out of fear, or maybe out of a desire to fit in. Maybe we do the same. We make choices in order to fit in. Later, when Jesus rises from the dead on the beach, we find Peter had return to his old ways. He is fishing. Peter does not want to change. As we are leaving school, maybe we want to stay in things we are comfortable and familiar in. Things we know. Things we already have the answer towards. But Jesus asks Peter the question “do you love me”? Peter responds, “yes”. But maybe the answer is not simply the “yes”, but rather what the question embodies. A willingness to accept life more fully. A willingness not to have all the answers, but rather an acceptance of a love which calls us to go beyond what we see. A deeper mystery through God.

In a world obsessed with image and material wealth, we must strive to prioritize what is real. It is not to say that we should abandon all aspects of our lives that involve celebrations or enjoyments, but rather to approach them with a discerning eye and a genuine heart. We should aim to find the balance between being present in the lives of those around us and participating in activities that align with our values.

Our faith journey is intrinsically tied to the pursuit of what is real. In Jesus, we find the epitome of authenticity, love, and truth. His life, teachings, and sacrifice remind us of the power of genuine connection and the transformative impact it can have on our lives. Does it shape who we are? In hope?

As Christians, we are called to embrace the real not only in our interactions with others but also in our relationship with God. We are invited to seek Him with sincerity, open ourselves up to His presence, and let His truth guide our lives. The good and the bad. It is through this deep connection that we can experience the abundant life and share the love of Christ with others. In a world often consumed by superficiality and illusion, it is vital for Christians to recognize the value of encountering what is real. Both the homeless and the year 12 formal was an encounter with the real. What the question is, what is more real?

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Beatitude - I wonder how the pursuit of material wealth and success can hinder our spiritual growth and understanding of what it means to be poor in spirit, as discussed in the content.
(By A. D. - Marist Laity - from AUSTRALIA - 2023-7-8)

Philosophy - How does the content prompt further exploration of the understanding of the nature of reality and the existence of an external world beyond our subjective experiences? How do the characters establish the reliability of their beliefs about the external world?
(By A. D. - Marist Laity - from AUSTRALIA - 2023-7-10)

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03 July 2023

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