Living with Christ is living for others
Christianity is a culture of living for others and that is why nations influenced by Christ have better institutions and environment for living a humane life.
By Joe Palathunkal
For many Catholics, it appears to me, living with Christ means regular church going and observance of certain devotional practices but if we go by the etymology of the word Christ, we may be forced to change our hermeneutics.
Khristos is the Greek for Christ and etymologically it means the anointed and in the history of Israel only the High Priests, prophets and kings were anointed to perform a specific office which was inevitably for other people. When we go through the Exodus (30), Leviticus (4 & 8), and 1 Kings (19), it becomes very clear that these people are anointed for others.
Of course, all these people definitely worked for others but whether they exclusively lived for others is questionable; however, in the case of Jesus he totally lived for others, not even having anything for himself – no house, no property – foxes have holes, birds have nests but the son of man has no place to lay his head. Khristos, therefore, is the best appellative only for Jesus and all others are nowhere near him to claim this as the suffix or title.
So, to live with such a Christ, etymologically and historically demands of us to live for others, if not there is no sense in calling ourselves Christians, the followers of the one who was anointed for others by his heavenly Father. For a Christian, therefore, it is mandatory to live for others.
The same is emphasized when Jesus calls himself the bread from heaven and we know the nature of bread very well- it goes to others and gets lost in their blood to give them strength and life. That is why the man from Nazareth keeps on telling us that he is the bread that gives abundance of life (John 10: 10).
But he is different from the prototype manna that the Israelites ate in the desert, yet they died and this anointed one that scaled the slopes Palestine is different – those who have him never die. By the multiplication of the bread for the people, by making the paralyzed man walk and the blind see, lepers clean, the dead little girl alive and by saving the woman accused of adultery – he was telling I am anointed for you so that you will have a vibrant life physically and psychologically.
Living with Christ means we have to give a wholesome life for others, a holistic life for others and it is extremely difficult in life situations than regularly going to church or attending sacraments faithfully but it is a total giving like many Catholic beacons who shine in front of us from history. Suddenly we may remember Father Damien, Maximilian Kolbe, Oscar Romero or Mother Teresa of Calcutta but there are thousands of others who are quite unknown.
Think of the numerous Catholics involved in human rights activities or poverty alleviation projects visiting the remote regions of Africa and Asia or South America, putting their own lives in peril. The several Catholic funding agencies like Caritas and Catholic mission are there to proclaim through actions that living with Christ means living for others. The core Christian ethos agape means loving others without expecting anything in return.
When Paul says ‘For to me, living is Christ’ (Philippians 1: 21), he wants to exhort us that living with Christ means living Christ and when you live Christ, you cannot be but living for others because that is the core message from the life of Christ and life of millions of Christians. Christianity is a culture of living for others and that is why nations influenced by Christ have better institutions and environment for living a humane life.
They are the ones who welcome people from the last and least terrains of the world and give them a cradle to grow irrespective of their colour, creed or race. USA, UK, Canada, Australia, France or other European nations welcome people from Africa and Asia without bothering about their creed or colour. Pope Francis even speaks about building a migrant corridor while certain nations in Asia are busy with building economic corridors.
This loudly proclaims when living with Christ is converted into a political language, it opens up national boundaries for the people who are in tears, whose lives are threatened, whose bodies are eaten away by sickness, whose souls are in chains. This is diakonia, the core of living with Christ and being Christian.And you will hear in the depth of your soul Matthew 25: 40: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
(Joe Palathunkal is Associate Editor, Living in Faith)
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