Guest writersÁlvaro de Juana

The new 'Theophores' of 2021

What is the identity of the Christian? To be 'theophores', 'God-bearers', who enlightened the whole society and whose faith they carried to the extreme. 

April 5, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes
christian theophores

Photo: Diego Ph/ Unsplash

It is a step, or a leap, but one of those that mark deeply. From death to life, from slavery to freedom, from Egypt to the Promised Land. That is what "Passover" means, which comes from the Hebrew "Passover".Pesach". And that is what summarizes, or should summarize, the Christian's experience.

The Christian's own life, the life of all Christians. Or at least that is what we should aspire to. Because the goal to which we are called and to which the Church invites us every Easter is eternal life. The proclamation of the Good News, the Kerygma is presented to us these days in a concrete way in this liturgical season with a concrete invitation to "go to Galilee", that is, to evangelize and to witness that we have taken that leap into life and freedom offered to us by the death and resurrection of Christ.

Some people may think that we are not ready for Easter, that the pandemic still has a lot to do and a lot to hit with. And they are probably not wrong. But, for this very reason, it is urgent to be aware of what it means. Of what it means that Christ is risen and alive. As Pope Francis said at this year's Easter Vigil, the resurrection of Christ "invites us to start again, to never lose hope".. In his homily at last year's Vigil he put it another way: "tonight we conquer a fundamental right that will not be taken away from us: the right to hope; it is a new, living hope that comes from God. It is not mere optimism, it is not a pat on the back or a few words of circumstantial encouragement with a passing smile.".

The problems will not disappear as if by magic, the suffering will still be there, and illness and death may come close to us. The effects of the crisis may worsen and political and social instability will continue to reach new heights. But all of this can be elevated to a new dimension. It is possible to 'walk on water'. This, at least, is what millions of Christians around the world have witnessed throughout history. So did the first Christians. So did the persecuted Christians in the early Church, and so do those persecuted for their faith today.

One of the most outstanding masterpieces of Christian apologetics, possibly written in the second century, is the Letter to Diognetus which offers a precise x-ray of what it means to be a Christian: "Christians are not distinguished from other men, neither by the place where they live, nor by their language, nor by their customs. They live in Greek and barbarian cities, according to their lot, they follow the customs of the inhabitants of the country, both in dress and in their whole way of life, and yet they show an admirable and, in the opinion of all, incredible tenor of life".

And he continues: "They live in the flesh, but not according to the flesh. They live on earth, but their citizenship is in Heaven. They obey the established laws, and by their way of life they surpass these laws. They love all, and all persecute them. They are condemned without knowing them. They are put to death, and thereby receive life. They are poor, and enrich many; they lack all things, and abound in all things. They suffer dishonor, and it serves them for glory; they suffer detriment to their fame, and it testifies to their righteousness. They are cursed, and they bless; they are treated with ignominy, and they return honor in return. They do good, and they are punished as evildoers; and, being punished to death, they rejoice as if they were given life." 

In other words, Christians were true 'Theophores', 'God-bearers', who enlightened the entire society and whose faith they carried to the extreme. 

Is it possible to return to the faith of the first Christians? Easter is a new occasion to raise the banner of a hope based on the event par excellence of man: the resurrection of Christ. And so the Christians of 2021 will become the new 'Theophores' of a society that needs to embalm its wounds.

The authorÁlvaro de Juana

Journalist and presenter of TRECE. Throughout his extensive career he has worked and collaborated in different media such as Alfa Omega, Misión magazine and Vida Nueva magazine. He has been a correspondent in Rome for ACIPrensa and EWTN, as well as for La Razón, a newspaper where he also covered social and political information in Italy.

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