perpetua2

Today marks the Feast of Perpetua and Felicity, early Martyrs in the faith.

When Perpetua chose to be a catechumen her father was distraught as Christians were being put to death. He begged her not to follow that path. She would not be deterred.

 

Pointing to a water jug, she asked her father, “See that pot lying there? Can you call it by any other name than what it is?”Her father answered, “Of course not.” Perpetua responded, “Neither can I call myself by any other name than what I am — a Christian.”[1]

In these early days of Lent, are we able define ourselves as Christian with the same conviction? If a friend were describe us to a stranger would he/she tell others describe us as Christian? We are a people who have journeyed into the waters of baptism and have covenanted to seek and serve Christ, to love neighbour, to protect God’s creation, to forgive others, to bear witness to Christ in love, to seek forgiveness, and to gather as community around the Table. That is who we are. We cannot be anything but.

Lent gives us great opportunity as ask if we are fulfilling our baptismal covenant. Lent allows us to ask, how we are doing our Christian journey. Perpetua knew in her bones that she was a Christian and could be described in no other fashion. She turned away from an easier road to follow ‘the way’ of Jesus at a time when the cost of such discipleship was very high. Are we prepared to follow that same way fully convinced that we can be described by no other name than Christian? And what is the cost of such discipleship for us today?….

Perpetua and Felicity bore witness to their faith at a time when the stakes were outrageous. This is not so for us today. There should be no impediment for us to live in such a way that we can be described in no other way than Christian. Professor Wilfred Cantwell Smith, reportedly, when he was asked if he was a Christian, responded, “Ask my neighbour.”[2] So as we step further into the wilderness of Lent perhaps we might reflect on how our actions define who we are. In the confidence that we belong to a God who loves us and works with us as we journey, we can in confidence examine our lives to find ways in which we might better reflect who we are. For me, that evaluative statement of Professor Smith will resonate with me for the rest of my sojourn through Lent.

Is Kevin a Christian? Ask my neighbour….


[2] Liyakatali Takim, “From Conversion to Conversation: Interfaith Dialogue in Post 9-11 America,” Muslim World 94 (2004): 346.