The Call vs One who calls
Which is the parable of two sons in the Bible? The immediate response points to one of the most popular parables, the parable of prodigal son. But there is a short parable in the Gospel of Mathew, where father gives his two sons a task to do. When the elder one said no, the youger one said yes. But the one who did say no, did the work and the other didn’t.
One who calls vs the Call (the Host vs the invitation)
Now a question can be asked, what is more important — the person who calls (who may be called host, source etc) or the call itself (which is the invitation or the message). We may have different opinions on what is more important. Some would say that it depends on the context.
The context of the question is modified by stating that the person who issued the call is God. What is more important now? I ask this question as a religious person, and for an atheist, that question may make no sense. Don’t expect me to give answers. You can choose your response or we keep on adding more layers to the question. Is it possible to acknowledge or obey the call without even acknowledging the person who calls? Or as a religious person, I ask, can an atheist follow/listen to the call of God without even acknowledging God?
A certain section of religious people would immediately answer “NO” and another will do “YES”. Probably one interesting question can be, what are the calls of God? I don’t have any authority (I think none has, but some others may be more qualified because of their experiences) to say that these are the list of calls (invitations) made by God. But some of my choices might be,
- Be merciful as your heavenly father is merciful.
- ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (or call is to do things for the least).
- You are the light of the world and salt of the earth.
- I have come to give life and life in its fullness (call is to a full life).
- Love one another as I have loved you.
- Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you.
- Read the important parables like Good Samaritan, Prodigal son etc, and we can sense an invitation there (it is not too complicated to identify them).
I haven’t given an exhaustive list; my question is again slightly modified (I am adamant on changing the question today, and that confusion is unavoidable in today’s article), are there non-Christians who respects some of these calls (or all of them) in amazing ways. Rather than theoretical answers, I would say that I have seen many such wonderful lives and their lives are testimonies to living out these invitations (at the same time, they won’t acknowledge Jesus as Christians do).
Concept of Gift
Many philosophers speak of the concept of gift and a giver is present (the extent of the presence of the giver can be varied) in the gift. In the Catholic understanding, eucharist is the supreme example of gift. Jesus, the giver is fully present in the gift. For humans, it may be impossible to be fully present in the gift. Some martrydoms may be one of the limiting examples of full presence in the gifts. I believe that God is fully present in all his gifts. And this same God is fully present in his call or invitation, which is also a gift.
Thus, from a Christian point of view, another person may not be accepting Jesus explicitly. But when s/he acts as a good human-being, s/he is embracing that call/invitation…. and if that call/invitation is a divine call, the divine is fully present in the call/invitation. Thus a term non-believer becomes problematic for him/her; because s/he is definitely following the call and thus divine too, though not in the way I know about divine.
(If in the last paragraphs, you find me struggling to get a hang on everything; it is true, but I think a good sign as I am speaking of God or human-beings, which are all mysteries).
Doing good, Pope Francis says, is a point of encounter for religious and a-religious people. From a Christian point of view, God is there in that point of encounter.
Some Christians can ask, if this is the case, why we need to preach about Jesus? Why we need evangelization or the Church? I think Christianity is about the relationship with Jesus and with everybody; I would like to introduce my friend Jesus to others; but my love and relationship with them will never depend on whether s/he accepts Jesus; and I believe that in our point of encounter, there is always God. Probably an apt conclusion is a statement from a great Christian mystic, Meister Ekhart…
NB: Some might think that I start with a Bible passage, went to many questions, and never answered anyway…. sorry for that…but you can still think…