Sunday, May 2, 2021

Christian Faith is a "Universal" Call to Love

Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and He wants to be with us - with each and every one of the human persons He has created and redeemed. But "where" is He? There is so much to say about this question. I will take up different aspects of it in other posts.

Let us begin by acknowledging that Christ's presence endures visibly and efficaciously in the community of believers who adhere to Him throughout history, who are gathered by His shepherds - the successors of His original companions and eyewitnesses, the Apostles, in communion with - and under the leadership of - the successor of Peter. The is the Church, where Jesus gives Himself concretely to human beings and forms them into His people. We are thus distinguished (beginning with our new birth in the sacrament of Baptism) from other people, as a sign and instrument of God's presence and love which are for everyone, and which everyone needs in the depths of their being. We are distinguished - as "members of Christ's body" - not so as to be separated from the human race as a whole, but to be companions to everyone, to be brothers and sisters to one another and to everyone. 

In following Jesus, we are called to love everyone He places on the path of our lives with great esteem, respect, attentiveness, and patience; like us, they are journeying toward their destiny and we have much to learn from the riches of their traditions and the aspirations and struggles of their experiences. Love also impels us to an intelligent and articulate witness about ourselves. As Christians, we will invariably overflow with this testimony to the foundation of our own lives in Christ, in whom we have found the pervasive presence of the Mystery, corresponding to the whole scope of our humanity, of human reason and freedom. 

We will speak about and propose to non-Christians the joy of Christ and His redemption within the concrete circumstances of our human relationships with these people, according to the particular ways that the Holy Spirit leads us. Our growing relationship with God empowers us to be His instruments according to God's wisdom and God's working within the persons He entrusts to us. Prayer and love are the sources of evangelization.

Today there are billions of people who live their lives and search for meaning, not knowing Jesus but nevertheless prompted and shaped inwardly by mysterious graces that are at least preparing them for their ultimate, decisive encounter with Him - and which may even effect some secret encounter and response in their hearts which is mysterious to us and not explicitly understood by them. We have no claim to power over them, and we can learn from them and their efforts to express the mysterious ways of God. We love them, and gladly call them brothers and sisters because we belong to the One who is calling them and who continues to call us to follow Him as we journey through this life together.