Sunday, January 15, 2017

Do I Really Believe in Him?

What does this man Jesus of Nazareth propose to his disciples? And what does he offer to my life, in response to my aspirations, my questions, my struggles with my own limitations, my suffering?

He offers himself. "I am the way and the truth and the life," he says. "Believe in me, follow me."

Do I really believe in him?

Jesus claims that he is the reason why I exist, that I was created so that I might be his brother, the brother of God the Son--the Word made flesh--and thus come to be, in union with him, a child of the Father in the Spirit. This is why I exist; this is the foundation of my identity and destiny as a created person. God made me because he wanted to love me and to give me the power to love him. I was created so that I might be raised up to share in the life of the Trinity.

And this is true for absolutely every human being without exception. It is at the very core of the humanity we all share. Every person is, by the mystery of God's mercy, on a path of life that leads ultimately to an encounter with Jesus, even though so many know nothing about him right now. This is why our lives and words witness to him, Jesus, always, even as we respect people of other religions, engage in dialogue with them, and learn many beautiful things from their stories of seeking truth and longing for goodness and beauty, from the genuine wisdom embodied in their cultures and traditions, and from the mysterious ways God has drawn them and worked in their lives. As we accompany others, collaborate with them, live in friendship with them, and witness to them, we are servants of the grace of God at work in them and in us.

Jesus wants to share his burning love with others, through us. Jesus wants everyone to meet him and to discover that he is the only answer to the search for meaning and the yearning for love that God has fashioned in the depths of every human heart. Only Jesus really knows me; only he can answer for me the question, “Who am I?

At this point, I feel that I have to ask myself: Is this something I really believe? Is it the concrete, motivating impetus of my daily life? Do I experience the presence of Jesus and his real love for me? How do any of us answer these questions?

If we are Christians, we want to say "yes" in some way, however fragile, however buried beneath distractions, obscured, forgotten, or mysteriously at work in deep places of our darkness. If we do not know this joy, how will we share it with others?

We must grow in this awareness, for our own sakes and for others. We must beg the Lord to deepen the conviction and the ardor of our faith and love, so that we will perceive more concretely that the glory of Christ is the real, superabundant, unimaginable answer to every human misery, every human cry of anguish, every authentic human desire for something more than the limits of this world can give.

We Christians: we need this capacity to see life as it really is. Then we will be able to serve others as witnesses, to give love, to bring healing, to meet human needs with God's mercy.

Going out to the margins, the places of anguish and loneliness, becomes possible and vital as we become more deeply aware of the fact that Jesus himself corresponds to the mystery of the human heart -- my own heart, and the heart of every person I meet. We must beg God to give us the grace to see our world, our circumstances --vividly --in light of this truth.

We must beg God to teach us how to pray, to open our eyes and our hearts to recognize his presence, to be changed by his "humble glory." We must seek him in the life of the Church, drawing strength from the Eucharist and the sacraments, and from one another in the companionship that is born from this new unity we share in his goodness and love.

In this begging, this prayer that adheres to the Lord only to long for him all the more, it becomes clear that every person really is my brother or my sister, that we all stand together in need of his mercy.