Tuesday, May 5, 2015

When I was a Protestant --Me and Jesus

When I was a protestant, one phrase I heard often was "a personal relationship with God." I think it would be more accurate to call it "a personal relationship with Jesus." It sounds good. It brings one to the mentality that: It is me and Jesus; we have a good thing going. It is mostly exclusive of others. Yes, there is evangelization and good works that often follows, but it is from an obligation, not love for neighbor. I can hear the retorts: That is not true; we believe in salvation by faith alone, works not being necessary. I used to say the same thing. "I do this out of love, not obligation; I am saved whether I do the works or not." Deep down, in my heart, in the recesses of my mind, I know good works are necessary, because it is for that purpose we are created.

It is true that we must have a personal relationship with God. God is three Persons; we are persons. To get a better understanding of the word "personal," let's look at some of the synonyms of the word: intimate, particular, secret, special, exclusive, privy, claimed, own, peculiar. It's individualistic. Here are some antonyms: common, ordinary, public, unimportant, usual, general. It does relate to an individual; nevertheless, it is not individualistic.

Jesus prayed often in private. What do you think: Was He praying for Himself, or was He praying for others, esp. the Catholic Church? One may bring up His plea in the Garden: Father, if you are willing, remove this clalice from me; nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." Because of the word "remove," He has the chalice already in His possession: He must either keep it, or He must pass it on--to humanity. Jesus is God; therefore, His will is the same as the Father's. However, Jesus is Man, human; therefore, because His human will, which He calls His own, is inferior to Divine will and desires to shrink from its duty, He makes it submit to Divine will. He does this for us. Just as He turns death to Life, hate to Love, He here transfers our weak, imperfect will to the strong, perfect Divine will, and shows us how to do it. (cf. Catena Aurea--Gospel of St. Luke).

Let's look at the human body. Does the right hand have a personal relationship with the brain? Well, yes, in a sense; but it is not personal exclusive from the rest of the body. It's "personal" relationship is for the good of the entire body. The Me-and-Jesus mentality boils down to: I am saved, and I hopes others will be saved; but if not, so be it; I am "covered." When we are baptized, we are baptized into Christ and the Catholic Church, the BODY OF CHRIST. It is the BODY OF CHRIST that will be saved, consisting of its members. We are baptized into LIFE. "The word of God grew and multiplied." This is what life does. The BODY OF CHRIST is growing. "The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon Him."

"Life" is defined: the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally. Evolution is attempting to discover the origins of life. Life cannot come from inorganic; it must come from organic, from life. Life has to always exist, and Life is God.

Now, life reproduces, multiplies. When there is evil in life, it reproduces, multiplies, until it eventually kills itself. We see this in cancer cells. When there is Good in life, it reproduces, multiplies, until all of it is exceedingly Good. This is what God did by sending His Only Begotten to become Man, turning death to life, hatred to love. This is what Jesus did in giving birth to the Catholic Church, the BODY OF CHRIST, of which He is HEAD. Jesus is LIFE.

Our personal relationship with Christ, with God, is through the Catholic Church. We do everything for the benefit of the Church. We might not be the heart, stomach, intestine, arm, leg, etc.; we are, however, at minimum, a cell, doing its good works in love of Christ and His Catholic Church. When we pray, do good deeds, we are glorifying God because this is part of divine life.

Now, we are not perfect. Jesus died for all of humanity; nevertheless, He only washed the feet of His disciples. "If I do not wash you, you have not part in me...He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not all of you." This has definite reference to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We are bathed in Baptism; nevertheless, our feet get dirty. The feet are used for walking, and we do not always walk as we are created to walk. Jesus washes our "feet" in the Confessional through the Catholic Church. Therefore, He commands His apostles to do likewise. The Catholic Church is the Kingdom of God. Let us live in it. Let us do good, not evil. It is LIFE. Jesus gave us Himself in the Eucharist. Let us not live for pleasure, but LIFE.

Same-sex unions cannot a marriage be because life cannot be reproduced. Sex is not the fulfillment of love; otherwise, rape would be love. Contraception has to be wrong because it defines love as pleasure. Pleasure cannot reproduce life. Divorce and remarriage cannot exist because it terminates the oneness between bride and groom, which is a manifestation of Christ and His Church. God gives us wisdom on how to choose a husband or wife. We must utilize that wisdom and stop allowing feelings to become the determining factor.

God is LIFE; the Catholic Church is LIFE because it is born of God. May we have a personal relationship with God by truly being Catholic.
--Tommy Turner