Most people associate NATO with meetings of world leaders. The more historically alert might be able to explain that it describes a commitment to mutual defense. “Attack one, attack all!”

I never realized how often Jesus reminded his followers to move beyond talk to action.

In this Vincentian Mindwalk I would like to explore an alternate meaning… No Action, Talk Only.

Jesus called us beyond “No Action, Talk Only”

Two striking examples!

Matthew 25 records Jesus telling his followers a story. The story cut through all kinds of misunderstandings. It tells us what God thinks is most important!

Jesus tells his followers something very different than they expected. They will be judged on what they do… or don’t do..  to least of their brothers and sisters. It was not about 612 laws and countless customs.

A later incident makes it more personal.

Jesus and his followers had just fulfilled all the ritual commands of the great feast of Passover. Jesus, as the “Word of God,” stresses what is important to him.

He kneels to wash their feet… something they never expected. They were ordinary folks. They had never expected to be chosen as his inner circle. Yet, secretly, they were arguing about where they stood in relation to Christ the King.

Jesus made it very clear. He expected them to wash the feet of all the other ordinary people he invited to follow him.

Pointedly he asks, “Do you understand?” I expect you to live a life of service to each other just as I have.

On the next day, he underscored what that meant. He gave the last drop of his blood for each of his sisters and brothers… even those who put him to death!

Ozanam – challenged to go beyond talk to action

Frederic and his companions were deeply committed Catholics in a university environment hostile to Christianity. They thought they had all the answers.

But they were stopped cold by the challenge of another student. “Christianity Is a thing of the past. What has your Church done for the poor” They had no answer! In effect, they were “NATO” followers of Christ!

Then they accompanied Sr. Rosalie Rendu, the Mother Theresa of her day, who was much more than talk.

As they accompanied this saint of the slums, they learned what it meant to go beyond “no action, talk only.” They saw someone who walked the talk.

Our call to go beyond “No Action, Talk Only”

St. John Chrysostom put it very bluntly. Preaching on Mt 25, he taught us to honor Christ’s body not only in the Eucharist but also on the streets.

  • Do you want to honor Christ’s body? Do not neglect him when he is naked; do not, while you honor Christ here with silken garments, neglect Him perishing outside of cold and nakedness. For he who said “This is my body,” and by His word confirmed the fact, also said, “You saw me hungry, and you did not feed me” and “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” 

In the Eucharistic, we

  • give praise and thanks to God for his actions in the world, especially his sending of his Son
  • unite ourselves with Christ’s sacrifice in worshipping the Father
  • Above all ask the Spirit to transform us into the body of Christ so that we can continue his mission in the world.

Do we see ourselves as the body of Christ continuing his mission to wash the feet of the mangled and confused bodies of Christ in our world?

Are the words I believe in the body of Christ enough?

Click below for an early audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk