Walking the Talk
by Debbie Watson
"You can tell what they are by what they do."
As you may remember in Banking with Jesus we had a look at gifts from God called "graces". We saw how graces need to be put into action or they are wasted.
Jesus is the best example we have of faith in action and of action for the love of God and love of neighbour. From the moment Jesus called the Apostles, He taught them to put faith into action. He called Peter and Andrew and then James and John and said to them "Follow me" (Mt 4:19-20). Mark tells us in his Gospel that they immediately set off for the town of Capernaum and Jesus began healing and teaching (Mk 1:21) followed by a great deal of other activity: Jesus cures many people including Peter's mother-in-law, He preaches in the synagogues, He teaches in the fields, He drives out demons and all the while the Apostles follow Him and learn from what He does and teaches.
But He does not let the Apostles just follow and watch. Mark tells us that He sent them out two by two (Mk 6:7). The Apostles did many things and came back and reported to Him (Mk 6:30). In this way they learned to 'talk the Jesus talk' and to 'walk the Jesus walk'.
Jesus also worked very hard to make the Apostles spiritually fit. He encouraged them to pray a lot and would often set the example by going off somewhere quiet to pray. He also taught them the "Lord's Prayer". After getting strength through prayer, He made the Apostles do many things that they would have preferred not to do. For example, He made them go near lepers who were outcasts; He made them accept in their midst great sinners, like prostitutes after they converted (which means changed their ways); He made them walk in the company of a tax collector and even more, made a former tax collector an apostle. Tax collectors were seen by the Jews as traitors because they collected taxes for Rome.
Jesus taught them patience with their enemies and told them not to judge others, even the Sadducees and the Pharisees whom they didn't like. Jesus told them not to consider themselves superior and judge harshly because if they did, they would be judged with the same measure. Jesus taught them to share what little they had with others. Remember the miracle of the loaves and the fish (Mk 6:35-44)? The Apostles were tired and hungry and only had a very little bit of food, but they had to trust Jesus that He would see to it that the little they had would be enough for everyone.
Have a look at what Jesus says: "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you" (Lk 6:37.38).
The actions of Jesus and His Apostles show us how we can put God's graces (gifts) to work. Frequently throughout our day, no matter what we are doing, we have the opportunity to either speak to God, or to act for God. We are reminded of St. Thérese of Lisieux and her "little ways".
We can choose to walk around miserable or choose to be cheerful. If we remind ourselves that Jesus walks with us, then we can be cheerful. When we are asked to do a chore around the house when we are doing something interesting, we can choose to complain or to put a smile on it.
If there is someone at school that is not part of our group but is usually alone, we can invite him or her to sit with us; or we can go and sit with that person for a change. If one of our friends is sad, we can let our friend talk to us about the problem. Often, even if we can't do much, just allowing someone to talk about their problems can make them feel better and discover solutions. If one of our friends forgot his or her school lunch at home of has very little to eat, we may offer to share what we have. If he or she has problems with homework, perhaps we can offer to help.
Sometimes our friends fight with each other. Jesus asks us to be peacemakers and tells us that peacemakers will be blessed (Mt 5:9). We should not take sides with one or the other and add to the ill feeling. Instead, Jesus asks us to encourage those who fight to resolve their problem and to forgive each other.
Sometimes children do not like a particular teacher and will gossip about that person. We can follow Jesus' teaching and not join the bad talk and condemnation of that person. Perhaps we could even point out one or two good points that that person may have. Quite often when we are in a group, we criticise people we consider to be outsiders or who belong to a different culture. We can say a lot of bad things in general about people from the other group just to join in and be part of the conversation. Jesus asks us not to do this, because we are all children of God and created and loved by Him.
If we know of a mother who would dearly love just one hour's break to go shopping, we can choose to say that it is not our problem, or we can offer to baby-sit. Perhaps our little brother or sister is bored and demanding attention from our busy Mom. Instead of getting impatient, we can offer to play a game or read a story and give our Mom a break.
Throughout His three years with the Apostles, Jesus made sure that they put everyone and everyone's needs above their own. So you see that in following the example of Jesus and the Apostles in the Gospels we are given many clues as to how to spend those graces that God gives us and to put faith into action.
We must always remember that Jesus loves the next person as much as He loves us, and He counts on us to be there for everyone on His behalf. Jesus' love is unconditional and He asks us to imitate Him, and to put our heart and all we have at His disposal. We sing a beautiful hymn during Offertory in Mass about just this. We say:
Take our bread, we ask you;
Take our hearts, we love you;
Take our lives, O Father;
We are yours, we are yours.
Let us walk our talk!
And then come the end of the day, we can spend the last graces for that day by praying for someone or something. It can be someone we know or someone or something we saw on the TV or read about in the papers. We can also encourage our friends to pray at a particular time for a special intention because Jesus says that where two or more are gathered in His name He is among them (Mt 18:20). Then we can rest knowing that we are at peace with our Father and His creation.
"You can tell what they are by what they do."
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