Just a Thought - Who Lives in You?
Charles Dickens was once asked, "What characters/ faces are most distinct to from from your novels?' He named Peggotty, Pickwick, Micawber, Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim and Agnes.
In real life these people never existed, but they certainly lived in the mind of Charles Dickens and long before they lived in his stories.
Who lives in your/ my life?
That might seem a rather strange question, but in the light of the question asked to and answered by Dickens, it is a valid query. More people live in you and me than we know.
To illustrate the truth of that, imagine a large room, and then in your/ my imagination, welcome all those people who have influenced and shaped our lives - for better or for worse.
There would be family members, classmates, workmates. I would invite a memorable teacher who directed and stirred my mind to new vistas and ideas. Some childhood heroes live on in me; as do the bullies that made life difficult. Yes many people live in me.
There is a poem called , 'My name is Legion'. It begins......
'Within my earthly temple there is a crowd
There is one of us that is humble and one of us is proud.
There's one that is broken-hearted for his sins
There is one that unrepentant sits and grins.'
Who lives in you?
To answer that question, remember that because of/ in virtue of the gift of freedom, you and I have a choice as to who will be guests and who would be asked to leave. Each of us can exercise 'crowd-control.
Indeed self-discovery and growing in maturity and bringing a sense of order to our inner lives, involves deciding who you and I wish to live in us and who it would be better of to evict.
In St.John's Gospel chapter 14, we read how Jesus is preparing his followers for a time that is soon to come, when his physical presence would be removed from them. But he goes on to speak of the Spirit of truth who would come and who will be in you.
Paul in his writings repeatedly spoke in the same terms - he was in Christ and Christ was in him. For Paul this was the essence of being a Christian - Christ invited to become the predominant person living in us!
We have so unnecessarily complicated that teaching by thinking it is something extraordinary. It is not. There is a dominant resident within each of us. It was true of Jesus. He was so transformed that his words and deeds were pure reflections of Abba/ God. So if I want to know if God is merciful, just, compassionate.....I look at the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
So the simple truth, that we have so often complicated, is that when Christ is invited to live in us, and when he becomes the predominant resident, then the evidence of that will be seen in our daily lives. And when that presence of Christ is reflected in us, it will speak more effectively than the most eloquent of words.
That is the truth echoed in what has become to be known as St. Patrick's Breastplate -
Christ be with me, Christ within me
Christ behind me, Christ before me
Christ beside me, Christ to win me
Christ to comfort and restore me
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ in danger, Christ in quiet
Christ in hearts that of all that love me
Christ in the mouth of friend and stranger.
Who lives in you, in me and in our community? A very vital question, don't you think? It seems to have added importance in the seasons of Advent and Christmas