Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 19, 2008
Surrender to Jesusí truth and know joy
We find love, happiness and freedom in Christ
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
On April 20 I awoke to discover an overnight snowstorm made getting to church impossible - especially for a man in a wheelchair. After making some coffee, I turned on the television. Throughout the previous week, CNN reported Pope Benedict's first trip to the U.S. It was about to broadcast a papal Mass at Yankee Stadium in New York.
Even sitting in my living room thousands of miles away from the Mass, I was deeply moved by every aspect of it.
I did not dare openly recite the Penitential Rite with the pope for fear of weeping. I, of all people, am acutely aware that I have sinned in thought, word and deed against God and my fellow man.
The Gospel text was John 14:1-12 - the text cited in my last column. It is that beloved portion of Scripture when our Lord said there are many dwelling places in his Father's house: Christ promised to return to take his followers to be with him there.
In that Gospel, Christ also made the blazing claim to be the only way to God: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Christ is the way
In his homily, Pope Benedict responded with these words: "Christ is the way that leads to the Father, the truth that gives meaning to human existence, and the source of that life which is eternal joy with all the saints in his heavenly kingdom.
"Let us take the Lord at his word. Let us renew our faith in him and put all our hope in his promises."
Such statements can be unpopular in an era of relative truth, when millions of people have believed the New Age lie that there are many ways to God.
But this extraordinary passage in the Book of John, with the unequivocal claim of Jesus Christ, was open for all to read. It was reinforced by testimony of his chief vicar on earth, Pope Benedict. Christ is not a way to God the Father: He is the only way for all humanity to God the Father.
Pope Benedict encouraged the Church faithful to look beyond linguistic and cultural tensions that face the Catholic Church in the U.S. and work toward unity that has its basis in the Word of God, made flesh in Jesus Christ. The same is true for the Catholic Church in Canada.
The word "Catholic" means universal. Catholicism calls us beyond linguistic or cultural differences. Our common faith in Jesus Christ should unite us.
Pope Benedict spoke of true human freedom coming from self-surrender to the truth of Jesus Christ. The pontiff said, "Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves."
We find love, happiness and freedom in Christ. This is the truth that brings liberty in Christ. Freedom in surrender is a mysterious and paradoxical truth that cuts close to the heart of God.
Perhaps the truth of finding freedom in surrender to Christ happens partly because we must discover that we are incapable of accepting and internalizing the reality of the Gospel without surrender to Christ. The Gospel articulates the Good News of human salvation through the redemptive work of Jesus, his sacrifice on the cross, and resurrection from the dead.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is revolutionary. It can transform the hardest heart into a new tender heart motivated by love and devoted to service. The Gospel can conquer egocentric people and transform them into Christ-centred people.
Mirror God's love
People with Jesus Christ at the centre of their lives, and whose personal egos have been subjugated to the will of God, will find they inexplicably begin to show Christ's love. Old divisions and human tensions can melt away. Former adversaries can be seen as potential friends. Fists that threatened become open palms of welcome.
Christ-centred people see the image of God peeking through the lives of other people. They radiate Christ's joy.
Pope Benedict closed his homily by saying, "Happy are you who believe!"
Turn to Jesus. He alone is the way that leads to eternal happiness, the truth who satisfies the deepest longings of every heart, and the life who brings ever new joy and hope, to us and to our world. Amen. Amen, Your Holiness. Amen.
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