Thursday, July 09, 2009

Meditation on GDC 56c: "Profession of faith"

Abandonment of self to Jesus Christ arouses in believers a desire to know him more profoundly and to identify with him. Catechesis initiates them in knowledge of faith and apprenticeship in the Christian life, thereby promoting a spiritual journey which brings about a "progressive change in outlook and morals". This is achieved in sacrifices and in challenges, as well as in the joys which God gives in abundance. The disciple of Jesus Christ is then ready to make an explicit, living and fruitful profession of faith.
Upon reading these words (especially "apprenticeship"), the following reflection came to me.

The Catholic Church teaches that to be a Christian is more than just to know about Jesus Christ; it's even more than knowing Jesus Christ. It is, in fact, to cooperate with him, to be configured to him, to share in his life and death, and ultimately to participate in the divine life of the Trinity. It is to live for Christ, not for yourself; it is, as the GDC states, "to identify with him." In the words of St. Paul: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20)

We're living 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. There's no vacation, no off-time. Living is a full-time job. Being a Christian means living Christ every minute of every day. It's an occupation: you don't occupy it, it — that is, he — occupies you! If being a Christian is a job, where do you acquire your job skills? Back in Jesus' day, there weren't carpentry schools: if you wanted to learn a trade, you apprenticed under someone. As far as the faith goes, that hasn't changed for us today: you can go to all the schools you want, amass all the degrees you can, but if you haven't apprenticed under the Master Himself, you're not a Christian. Christianity — I mean genuine Catholic Christianity — is not an encounter with a book, but rather, as Pope Benedict wrote in Deus Caritas Est, it is "the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means sitting at his feet (like Martha's sister Mary) and learning from him. The word disciple comes from the Latin verb discere which means "to learn; to hear, get to know, become acquainted with; to acquire knowledge of / skill in." A disciple gets to know Jesus and acquires skill in being like him. This is apprenticeship!

When you are ready to call yourself a disciple of Jesus Christ, when you are ready to accept the Catholic faith, the GDC says you are "ready to make an explicit, living and fruitful profession of faith." Being a disciple is a full-time job. There are no "amateur" disciples, only professional ones. Being a Catholic is more than a "way of life," it is a profession. It's about what you believe: we accept the revelation which God has made to known through His Church. And it's about what you do: the "obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5) we owe to God demands that we conform ourselves to Jesus Christ. No wonder the Church teaches that we are all called to share in the redemptive mission of our Savior: if we're living like Jesus, what else can we do than save souls? If we're as Christ-like as can be, we're all co-mediators and co-redeemers who are living and carrying out the mission of our Lord. (Don't get me wrong: Jesus is the Redeemer and the Mediator, but if we are co-operating with him, we are sharing in his redemptive and mediative works.)

God is hiring. There are openings in His family. The benefits are phenomenal... and eternal.

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