Christian rights and duties

Photo: Shutterstock Photo: Shutterstock

“Seek the things that are above” (see Col. 3:1)

“What the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world”…“The soul, when but ill-provided with food and drink, becomes better; in like manner, the Christians, though subjected day by day to punishment, increase the more in number. God has assigned them this illustrious position, which it were unlawful for them to forsake. (Epistle to Diognetus, Ch5 & 6, 2nd century A.D.)

It is not lawful to us, Christians, to deprive the world of the right to forgive, in the name of Jesus, anyone who deems us his or her enemy. (see Luke 6: 27) We have the right to offer every part of ourselves to the service of the Lord as an instrument of righteousness, to the point of martyrdom. (see Rom. 6:13) We, Christians, have the right to be persecuted, so that the justice of love can triumph in every human being, from the womb to natural death.

Moreover, Christians have the duty to offer citizens of any nation, reasons that challenge the simplicity of pure brain logic:  “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (see Mark 9:35) As Disciples of Jesus Christ, it is our duty to bring freedom to a world that seems to run wildly toward an ever-growing build-up of armaments in the name of safety, but where everyone lives in constant fear.

We, Christians, cannot desert the duty to mortify our bodies and minds so that we can foster the purity that defeats the merely animalistic impulses. Impulses contaminated with lust, revenge, self-reliance or destructive egotism of our bodily temple, which God created.

Our world has a deep need for us Christians to fulfill our duty on this earth, so that humanity can discover the existence of a homeland that is above and beyond the few years that we pilgrim on this land.

Our societies consider that a body is dead when it no longer has a breath, when it no longer has in itself that breath that fills its lungs and brain to make it move. We could say, like Diognetus in his letter, that the world would die without breath, without its soul that are we, the Christians.

Throughout the 20 centuries of Christianity, God has brought forth men and women who, with the divine breath, have brought life to the world. Holy men and women who, like St. Paul, have felt in the bottom of their hearts that energy capable of overcoming any obstacle, even death. Energy that makes us proclaim how “Christ’s love compels us.” (2Cor. 5:14)

It is not us, Christians, who give life to the world; it is Christ, who lives in each one of us, who offers that inexhaustible breath of life. It is Christ, still alive; it is Christ, who has overcome death; it is Christ, our hope.

As we embrace our beloved ones at home, as we observe so many men and women around the world who, encouraged by being Christians, continue to joyfully claim their right to serve others with heart and soul, let us thank God for them. Let us pray to the Lord, to always give us that breath of life that allows us to fulfil our rights and duties as Christians.

Mary claimed her right to be an instrument of God, and consequently to be called blessed by all generations to come. She intercedes for us so that we can be filled with the loving breath of our creator and proclaim the wonders that God continues to make in each of us, and that we always aspire for more.

Read the Spanish version of this column.

Northwest Catholic - November 2019

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo

Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.

Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., es obispo auxiliar de Seattle y vicario para el ministerio hispano.