From the Desk of Father Davis
Jesus asks us today, as he did his disciples long ago, “who do you say that I am?”
Throughout our growing up years, as we are raised in the faith and come to understand the life of Jesus Christ, our answer to this question gradually becomes more profound. The converse, however, is also true, i.e., if we are not raised in the faith and have no knowledge of Jesus, our faith, if any, will be limited, obscure, and lifeless.
Ordinarily in the Catholic walk of life, we start out with inherited faith, called childhood faith, sometimes referred to as family faith. Essentially, this means that we believe in the Lord because our parents believe. We will go to church because that’s what our family does. Our faith is part of our cultural context. It’s part of our spiritual DNA. Indeed, it’s a cultural faith, inherited from the tradition of our parents. This level of faith portends, of course, to the next stage of our journey as we come to adolescent faith, which is sometimes known as group faith. Our frame of reference becomes broader than the family unit, as we discover that the church has a wider impact than simply on our homes and family unit. It is a faith that embraces a communitarian dimension. As such, we believe in Jesus because of what “the church” community teaches. This is what Catholics do. We practice the faith in the way our social group inspires us. Unconnected to the regular nourishment of the teachings of Jesus, this second stage often evidences alignment with our peers, and is frequently a faith in transition, characterized by a time of struggle, filled with questions and doubts. It should be noted that even within the active practice of the faith these struggles take place, and often point to a “break out” moment in which we long for another transition in the journey. At long last we hopefully arrive at individually chosen faith, personal faith, also known as adult faith. In this instance, we believe in Christ not because Mom does. We believe in Christ not because it’s what Catholics do, nor because of what our peers do or not do. In this third and final stage, we believe in Christ because, with maturity, I choose to believe. I choose to go to church. I choose to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and Redeemer. I want to live for him.
Jesus’ question, “who do you say that I am?” has importance for us each and every step along the way of life, as a guiding question, helping us to mature in our clarity, as to the identity and impact of the Lord Jesus on our journey toward human and spiritual maturation.
Here at the Church of the Little Flower, we see regular evidences of people’s effort at answering Jesus’ question with conviction and commitment. Just this past week, the Men’s Emmaus group met to spiritually deepen their walk. The Monday Bible Study group sought to enter into the Scriptures more deeply. The attendees at my Lecture Series on biblical interpretation sought to make more profound their hearing and understanding of the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. Hundreds came to be touched by the Healing Christ in the bestowal of the Anointing of the Sick on Tuesday evening. In addition to some 940 students at Saint Theresa School being introduced to the person of Jesus through quality Catholic youth formation, children by the hundreds participate in our religious education program as thy develop their faith in the Lord. This past Friday, hundreds came to encounter Christ in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, praying as the supplicant Church for reparation, healing, and new life in Christ. In fact this weekend, during our annual Ministries Fair, more than fifty ministries will be on display, announcing their own distinctively generous way of living in the spirit of the Risen Jesus. Yes! Many here at our parish are attempting to answer the question about Jesus’ identity by the way they live, worship and serve.
Each and every step of the way on our journey of life, individually and communally, as we seek maturity in Christ, his question should guide our choices, develop our beliefs, and strengthen our walk. Who do you say that he is?