This is a syndicated post from Catholic Journal. [Read the original article...]
A story. A smile. A laugh. A handshake. A friendship. A cold. A meal. A hug. A kiss. A life. These are just some of the things we share with others.
But how about our faith?
In my homilies at baptisms, I often use one of the most familiar examples of faith (or lack thereof) in the Gospels. In John (20:19-20), we read: “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” After seeing Jesus, their faith had been confirmed. This Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had followed and who had died on the Cross, had risen!
The Gospel of John (20:24) informs us that Thomas was not with them when Jesus visited and we are told that he refused to believe. “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my fingers in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” (20:25) And for eight days, Jesus left Thomas in his unbelief. But on that eighth day, everything changed. With the doors shut, Jesus appeared once more. This time, Thomas was present. “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” (20:27) After taking the Lord at his word, Thomas answered: “My Lord and my God.” (20:28) In addressing Thomas, Jesus questions and declares: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (20:29)
During those eight days, I have often wondered what it must have been like for Thomas and the rest of the twelve. How did the “true believers” relate to this lone skeptic? Also, until he was provided with a front-row seat to a divine audience, was Thomas, little by little, uplifted by the faith of his friends and especially that which he witnessed in their behavior and confidence?
Mahatma Ghandi once said:
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
His observation, from the outside looking in, is true. Do others see in our behavior the actions of Christians with the utmost belief in Jesus? While most of us do not have the flexibility to follow Jesus in as radical a way as his first believers, our commitment to The Way of Jesus may nevertheless be transformative.
In a homily given by Pope Francis on the Third Sunday of Easter, the Holy Father provides us with three questions to help us discern who is Lord of our lives: (1) Who has called us?; (2) Whom do we worship?; (3) What is the consequence of this in our lives?
By recalling the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “…preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words,” Pope Francis reminds us that before we may preach the Gospel, we must first ask ourselves just who has called us to do so. He writes:
But all this is possible only if we recognize Jesus Christ, because it is he who has called us, he who has invited us to travel his path, he who has chosen us. Proclamation and witness are only possible if we are close to him, just as Peter, John and the other disciples in today’s Gospel passage were gathered around the Risen Jesus; there is a daily closeness to him: they know very well who he is, they know him. The Evangelist stresses the fact that “no one dared ask him: ‘Who are you?’ – they knew it was the Lord (Jn 21:12).
After recognizing that Jesus has called us, Pope Francis then discusses what it means to worship God:
It means learning to be with him, it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him, and it means sensing that his presence is the most true, the most good, the most important thing of all. All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshipping the Lord means giving him the place that he must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that he alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.
By recognizing that Jesus Christ has called us, we are provided with an eternal vocation. By worshipping Jesus, we place Him at the center of our lives. The consequences are endless. We are set on fire and no longer fearful to proclaim an active, Christ-centered lifestyle to all that we meet. By and through our faith-filled actions, we are recognizable to others. They point to us and remark:
There is someone who knows Jesus. There is His follower. There is a Christian!
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1814), “Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith, man freely commits his entire self to God. For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will.”
In pondering an active and lived faith (Is the Faith a Trench or a Bunker?, Catholic Answers Blog, June 2013), author Todd Aglialoro puts it this way:
We’re faced with a choice between going to the world and penetrating it, informing its institutions with the gospel, with the witness of our lives and families, or retreating into a self-referential ghetto. I believe the former course better fulfills the universal call to evangelize, and, just as importantly, helps ward off the only possible future for a Church that hides in its bunker: cultural irrelevance.
On the eighth day, St. Thomas’ faith was confirmed and activated. Is today our eighth day?
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