Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Patience With God

Patience with God is a book written by a Czech writer Tomas Halik. In the Catholic Peace Weekly, a columnist read the book on the recommendation of a friend and gives us her understanding of the book's theme: absence of God in the lives of many Christians and atheists and the authors desire to be of help.

In the introduction to the book that author tells his readers of the takeover of the country in 1948 by the Communists. Religion was suppressed and he left the country and was ordained a priest. (He was brought up in in a secular environment and was a convert in his twenties) He was ordained a priest in 1970 and returned to the Czech Nation working in the underground church. In 1989 the Velvet Revolution brought an end to Communist rule and the rise of the Czech Nation and parliamentary government.

He returned to teaching and writing. One day he was invited to deliver a brief meditation to parliament.  After the Velvet Revolution, the joy of freedom was enjoyed only briefly by the citizens, they were afraid of crowds. In the presence of so many choices, the citizens were puzzled and confused. Many problems and complications began to appear. Everything was now open to choice. Citizens began to have headaches, missing the black and white world to which they were accustomed. 

In the mission he has taken upon himself, he uses the story of Zaccheus in the Gospel of Luke chapter 10:1-10. After the fall of Communism the Christians went out to the streets and realized that many applauded them, some not so positively, but they didn't notice all the Zacchaeuses who didn't associate with the old or new believers but were not indifferent or hostile to them. They were seekers who wanted to remain at a distance.  

Jesus called Zacchaeus by name which gave him the confidence to leave the fig tree. Jesus surprised him in willing to stay at his house. There is no evidence  Zacchaeus joined his band of followers but he did change his life. The church has not been able to address the Zacchaeuses of the world in this manner. It is only those who understand the Zacchaeuses and can call them by name that we will see a change in the world we live in.

Fr. Tomas feels that he understands the Zacchaeuses of the world. They are not in his mind feeling superior. Things are not that simple. It is more the result of shyness. They did not choose their place on the margins of society many of them know their own shortcomings and the difficulties on their life's journey. 

Zacchaeus was open to hearing the voice of Jesus and responded. He was willing to change his life.The priest sees the Zacchaeuses of this world who are between the two fortified camps of assured fundamentalist believers and self-assured atheists. Life is filled with questions and doubts but Christians have an understanding of faith and the one to whom faith relates. They are not afraid of doubts and questions. For these doubts and questions can lead us on to a deeper and maturer faith.

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