April 24, 2015

Editorial

‘Knowing’ Jesus should guide our lives and our actions

A priest’s homily made a very definitive point on a recent Sunday.

As people of faith, he said, many of us know of Jesus.

“But do we know Jesus?” he asked the congregation.

Knowing Jesus, he said, means absorbing the lessons we learn in Scripture from the Son of God, applying them to everyday life, and being Christ-like in all we do. That knowledge should guide us when we are tempted to make a mountain out of a molehill after a disagreement with a family member, co-worker or friend; when our first thought is to become impatient and unruly waiting in line to grab a cup of coffee on our way to a busy day of work; and even when we are attacked or ridiculed by others because of our Catholic faith.

“What would Jesus do?” the priest asked.

Looking through Scripture, we find the answer.

Forgiveness, patience and never-ending love are a few of the things that come to mind as we see countless times where Our Savior lets his light shine on life situation after life situation.

When Judas Iscariot betrays him. When Peter denies him three times. When he is falsely convicted of a crime and put to death by crucifixion.

Though it is by no means an easy task, our faith demands that we do the same. We must be forgiving and loving Christians—no matter what the circumstance.

Pope Francis said as much during a recent Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives.

Christians are not masochists who go looking for martyrdom, but when faced with persecution, humiliation or even just the daily annoyance of a person who makes them angry, what they must seek is to react like Jesus would, Pope Francis said.

The Holy Father said at the April 17 liturgy that the grace of imitating Christ has been given to modern martyrs, as well as to “many men and women who suffer humiliation every day,” but for the good of their families “they close their mouths, they don’t speak, they endure it for love of Jesus.”

Humiliation is not something one seeks, because “that would be masochism,” he said. Holiness lies in accepting humiliation as an occasion “to imitate Jesus.”

Humiliation is a strong word, but an appropriate one when looking at how many Christians around the world, particularly in the Middle East, are being treated because of their faith. Many have been killed, including dozens of Ethiopian Christians recently beheaded by Islamic State militants in Libya.

Though we are by no means experiencing the same hardships as our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Middle East, Catholics in the United States are facing challenges, too.

A health care law is forcing many Catholic institutions to provide abortifacients, contraception and sterilization to its employees. Catholic schools are being sued for adhering to tenets of the faith in hiring practices. Religious liberty, including what we believe and how we live, is being challenged by secularists and others who think we should leave our beliefs in church buildings where we celebrate our faith. It is a private matter, many say, and does not belong in the public square.

When someone does you wrong, Pope Francis said, there are two possible paths: “that of closing down, which leads to hatred, anger and wanting to kill the other; or openness to God on the path of Jesus, which makes you take humiliation—even strong humiliation—with interior joy because you are certain you are on Jesus’ path.”

Being faithful to God means trying to react like he would, Pope Francis said. “God loves others, loves harmony, loves love, loves dialogue and loves walking together.”

Love. A four-letter word that would serve humankind well as we try and live by Jesus’ example.

—Mike Krokos

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