Do I really believe in Jesus?

Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN executive director, Patrick Carolan

This reflection was originally posted in our June 26th newsletter


Burden.CrossThis is a question I often ask myself. I am an early riser so I sit on my deck with a cup of coffee and my dog Howard, watching the sun come up and listening to the birds singing their morning praises. While sitting there I regularly reflect on two things; do I really believe and if so, what does that actually mean? If I believe, does it mean that I just have to go to Mass on Sunday, fold my hands the right way, participate in the sacraments, and obey the commandments? Is that the message from Jesus’ life and sacrifice? I am good at that, I’ve been doing it all my life. As I am sitting on my deck meditating, however, I feel like there is more.

In her book, Holy Thursday Revolution, Beatrice Bruteau says Jesus’ teachings and actions mean “we are to deepen our purity beyond ritual observances and not let any purity practice divide us or set us at odds with our fellows.” If we are so concerned with our rituals and our purity codes that we are not hearing the cry of the poor and oppressed and not acting on those cries, what does that make us? Sr. Ilia Delio so beautifully describes it in her book Making All Things New: “Eucharist means being an active participant in the Cosmic body of Christ, a body evolving unto fullness, the Cosmic person, through the rise of consciousness and unity in Love. The Gospel life is not a social agency of good works but a life of mindful presence or oneness with God as such sacraments do not make one a Christian.”

So what does it mean to really believe in Jesus? In Sunday’s second reading from Romans 6 we are told “If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” We keep waiting for Jesus to come back again. Scholars and theologians have even tried to predict when Jesus will return. Yet this passage, like others in the Gospels, tells us that Jesus never left us. He is always with us. The apostle Thomas did not believe until he actually touched the wounds. Do we need to touch the wounds to really believe?

If we walk down the street and see a homeless person, do we cross over to avoid them, do we quicken our pace, do we look down so as not to make eye contact? Or do we see Christ and reach out to touch his wounds? Do we see Christ in the poor, the imprisoned, and the oppressed? In her book Beyond Apathy, Dr. Elisabeth Vasko states “To be a Christian is to take sides with those who are marginalized, dehumanized and subject to violence. Whether we like it or not neutrality isn’t an option. In the face of violent activity, to hide behind the mirror of ignorance is to take sides with the powers that be.”

The Gospel reading says “whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” We tend to spend more time worshiping at the foot of the cross than taking up the cross and following Christ. Worshiping Jesus is so much easier than taking up the cross. Do we really believe in Jesus?

Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

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Published in: on June 27, 2017 at 8:51 am  Leave a Comment  

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