How did Christianity change the world 1

Pastor Bodo Windolf, St. Severin Garching

"Has Christianity changed the world?"

11th Sunday i. J. 2009 

Has Christianity changed the world? 

Has the Church, has Christianity actually changed the world? Many say: No, not in the least. If we look at the world with all the conflicts, wars, misery, injustices, one can only say: in the end everything has stayed the same. Or one even claims: the religions, not least Christianity, have even exacerbated the conflicts. "Get rid of religion and the world will be more peaceful!"

A poem by Erich Kästner, written for the "revolutionary Jesus on his birthday", is representative of this view:

It's almost two thousand years

that you left the world

you sacrificial lamb of life.

You gave the poor their god

you suffered ridicule for the rich,

you did it in vain.


You saw violence and police

you wanted all people free

and peace on earth.

You knew how misery does

and wanted all people well,

so that it becomes more beautiful.


You were a revolutionary

and made your life difficult

with pushers and scholars.

You have always protected freedom

and yet of no use to people.

You came to the wrong people.


You fought bravely against them

and against the state and industry

and the whole pack:

until you get caught because nothing

Judicial murder unceremoniously committed,

it was just like today.


People didn't get clever

at least Christianity,

despite everything, hand wrinkles.

You loved her in vain

you died in vain and everything remained

at the old one.

It is cheap to talk like that in some circles these days. But that is only possible if you have no clue about history. So, of necessity, very briefly, a few pointers:

For example, let's imagine our world or even Europe without St. Benedict and his monks. What they have done for our European culture in particular cannot be overestimated. For example, it is solely thanks to the monasteries' offices that the knowledge and culture of antiquity was preserved and passed on to the new peoples of our continent.

As a result, in the supposedly dark Christian Middle Ages, universities emerged all over Europe, founded out of a Christian thirst for education and the spirit of research. Without these roots and the systematically practiced use of reason, science and research of our time cannot be thought of at all.

The orders were also pioneers in terms of school education, not least for the poor and also for girls, before the state more and more took over this task much later, in the century before last.

Let us continue to imagine our world without the care for the poor and sick, which has been characteristic of Christianity from the beginning and which antiquity did not know. Since the Middle Ages in particular, a large number of charitable orders have emerged that have taken care of the destitute, ailing, old and handicapped people in hospices, hospitals and old people's homes. All of our social legislation, in which the richer people jointly assume responsibility for the poor and weaker in society, would not exist without the pioneering deeds of these orders.

The same applies to today's social institutions, which the state has only gradually taken over from the order as a separate task. In all of these state-sponsored institutions, we encounter a Christian spirit of charity that has become secular and which, through imitation, is now also to be found in non-Christian countries in which there was nothing similar before.

This year we are celebrating 60 years of the Basic Law, which in the 1st article decrees the inviolability of the dignity of every person without exception as the basis for all other rights, obligations and laws. It is no coincidence that the awareness of human dignity and human rights developed exclusively in the Judeo-Christian cultural area. Because both are children of the doctrine of the likeness of every human being and the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.

In addition to these global developments, billions of individual people have experienced consolation, strength, hope and joy from their faith in a gracious and merciful God who has assumed a human face in Christ, is not in any history book, but is also part of how Christian faith has changed the face of the earth.

In addition to these positive effects, there is of course - and this must not be concealed - a negative history of the Church. What surprises the despisers of Christianity, who suspect not the abuse of religion, but religion in general, to be the driving reason for almost everything bad in the world, is the stupid blindness with which the horrific crimes are overlooked, The anti-church and anti-faith regimes have perpetrated on people who cannot be counted, starting with the French Revolution, which invented the technically perfect mass murder with the guillotine, in the 20th century mainly through the red and brown terror in many countries around the world. Later generations will certainly not describe the Middle Ages but the 20th century as one of the darkest in human history.

Of course, this notice does not excuse any crimes committed by members of the Church or on behalf of the Church. But it is dishonest to bring the negative to the fore in such a way that the positive, the world-changing power of 2000 years of Christianity, is no longer perceived.

You may now ask what all of this has to do with today's gospel: Well, I've tried to give concrete examples of what Jesus is talking about in today's parable. The little seed of the kingdom of God, as it were the mustard seed sown into our earth, is first of all Christ himself. He is also the tree that grew out of this smallest of the grains and in its branches countless people like the birds in the parable Seek a refuge.

For 2000 years, innumerable messengers of faith on His behalf have planted the seed-bearing fruits of this tree, namely faith in Jesus Christ and His Good News, in various places on earth. Since then the kingdom of God has grown steadily: sometimes visible to all, sometimes invisible; sometimes the kingdom of God can be grasped with hands, sometimes it works hidden only in the hearts of men; sometimes it appears under an explicitly Christian sign, sometimes in a purely secular garb, so that Christianity is there, even if it is not on it.

We don't notice a lot of rising and growing seeds, and we don't notice a lot of fruits. This service, which we are now celebrating together - if we are really there with body, soul, heart and spirit - will let us go home a little changed in our everyday life. Our common prayer in this celebration and personal prayer changes our world, because God lets it be heard and fruitful somewhere, even if we ourselves do not see this fruit.

The essence of Jesus' parable is: God needs each of us so that the seed of his kingdom may be sown. But growth and prosperity is what He does, often without our noticing. None of our prayers, no selfless act is in vain, but changes the world for the better and is a seed for the growth of the kingdom of God among us. Even in the face of emptier churches in our country and declining religious practice, there is no reason for discouragement and resignation. God does an infinite amount of things in secret, incognito - even in our time.

Rev. Bodo Windolf

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