I don’t know about you, but I avoid the news like the plague. No matter the source, the media today is a place of constant conflict, and it’s easy to get caught in the ceaseless spin cycle and feel as though everything is falling apart around us. It’s easy to lose the perspective that we are in this world, but not of it. And once we lose that perspective, it’s easy to lose hope.
But as Catholics, our hope is in God and transcends this world. Specifically, our hope is in a personal God, who loves each of us enough to become like the least of us: wriggling and helpless in a Bethlehem stable; hungry and homeless on the road to Egypt; hard-working and cash-strapped in the wood shop in Nazareth; hounded and criticized by His own people; persecuted and abandoned by those who should have known and loved Him best. Jesus’s perfect and total Yes to the Father finally silenced the steady drumbeat of Nos that had echoed through the ages since the fall of Adam and Eve. He lived, He died, He rose again—we know this through the words of the prophets, the witness of the apostles, and the blood of martyrs. Never before have so many sacrificed everything—their very lives!—for so outlandish a claim as a God-Man who let himself be humiliated and slaughtered only to rise again from the dead. Who would die for such a thing? If you had any doubt in your mind, would you give your life?
Thousands of people have, from Jesus’s day to the present. We believe far more these days on less credible evidence, and yet we’re skeptical of this?
When the apostle Thomas encountered the resurrected Jesus in the flesh, his famous skepticism was transformed—he declared, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus replied, “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.”
That’s us: believers in an unseen Christ. Blessed are we who persist in the faith.
Of course, as Catholics we still encounter the living God, just not by sight. We encounter Christ in His Body, the Church, and in the sacraments—particularly the Holy Eucharist. We know that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus by His own words: “This is my Body…This is the cup of my Blood.” Jesus is God, and just as in the Creation story, what God says, is.
This is Good News—the Best News, in fact, and we are obliged to share it. It’s not enough to just accept Christ’s mercy and grace, or receive His Body and Blood. We are called to be disciples: not dependants, and not simply students, but followers, who learn, live, and spread the Gospel. No one encounters God without changing, and indeed Jesus says whoever wishes to be His disciple must pick up His cross and follow. If we are unwilling to change our behaviors and priorities; to work, suffer, and die for the sake of the Kingdom, we are not yet full-fledged disciples.
Why should we care? Because it takes disciples to make disciples. We can’t lead others to Christ if we aren’t following in his footsteps ourselves. Fr. Mike Schmitz reminds us that Jesus gave us one job to do while He is gone: go and make disciples of all nations. When He comes back, it won’t matter that the car is waxed; the laundry, folded; or the recycling, sorted. He’s going to look around to see if we did that one thing. Our hope demands change.
Blogger’s Note: This article appear in the Sunday, July 19, parish bulletin.