FAUSTO GOMEZ OP
A poster shouted at me in a subway of New York: “Christ is the Answer. ”Someone wrote under the text: “What is the question?” The question is: “Who is Christ for me and for you?” There are two other closely related questions: “What does it mean to follow Christ?” and “Where do we find him today?”.
In eight previous columns, we faced and tried to answer those questions. Christ is the life of the Christian, whose life means to know, to love Jesus, to follow and to tell the world of His love. Let us summarize the main ideas contained in our limited answers.
“Who is Christ for me, for you?” My personal answer is: “You are the Way, my Way.” Certainly, the authentic answer is not given by our lips, our words, but by our life: “I follow Jesus, who, yes, is the Son of God and Mary. My savior,Dominus meus et Deus meus.” At least, I try hard to follow Him, to imitate Him – His way of prayer and unconditional love: “Let all that you do be done in love” (St. Charles Borromeo).
What does it mean to follow Christ? Following Christ means to go after Him, to imitate His life and virtues, to be transfigured into Him, to identify with Him, to be a witnessing member of the community of Jesus’ disciples, the Church. We feel His presence also in our work of mission and in those we try to evangelize, humbly and respectfully.
Jesus is our only Master. Let Him touch us! This is what spiritual life is all about. He is our exemplum and exemplar! Jesus is the Word, our Master, our Life. All believers in Jesus are asked by their faith in Him to have a passionate love for Him, and be His joyful and fascinating witnesses. Like the prophet Jeremiah was seduced by God, those who truly believe in Jesus as the Son of God and a Man-for-others continue being seduced by Him today (cf. Jr 20:7).
Jesus asked Peter three times (for the 3 times the apostle denied him): “Do you love me?” (Jn 21:15-17). Today, He is asking you and me: Do you love me?“How can I not love you [Jesus] who loved me so much, even though I was in sin, that you laid down your life for the sheep whose shepherd you are?” (St. Gregory of Nyssa).
Where do we find Jesus today? We may find Him in the Church, its sacraments, the Sacred Scriptures, and the needy of the world. We may encounter Jesus also in the Eucharist, and with the Father and the Holy Spirit in our hearts (the mysterious indwelling of the Blessed Trinity).
There was a popular poster in the 70s of the last century that read as follows:
Jesus of Nazareth, Galilean, 33 years old, with brown complexion, with beard and long hair hippy style, with wounds in his hands and feet. Lepers, beggars, persecuted people, and an unconditional gang of twelve men and some women accompany him. He scandalizes the crowds with phrases like these: “Love one another,” “Forgive your enemies.” If you find him, follow him:
REWARD: ETERNAL LIFE.
We are followers of Christ. Let us continue showing it by our witnessing for Jesus in our life. Authentic witnesses are “in Christ,” and therefore, “a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). Christ is the “one who makes everything new” (Rev 21:5). Indeed, every day is a new day, a new opportunity to tell the world of Jesus’ love, and that it is very much worthwhile to follow him if we really want to love well and be happy on our journey of temporal life, which leads us to eternal life and happiness.
St. Paul tells us that we are the perfume, the letter, and the mirror of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 2:15 and 3:3). Hard? For us, if unaided, it is impossible, but with Christ it is possible and can even be joyful and light. If Jesus and His message become for you and me – as for St. John Chrysostom – “my protecting wall and garrison.”
Let me share with you, dear reader, two powerful and inspiring true stories.AFrench sister lived for many years in a non-Christian African country. She was asked:“What is the greatest problem in your life?” Her answer:“Not being able to shout ‘Jesus.’ You know, when you are in love, you want to shout the name of your beloved. Here, I cannot do it! So, I have tried to do this: may I live the way Christ lived, may I show Christ in my life.”
A young man with cancer of the tongue was going to be operated by his surgeon. Just before the operation, the surgeon told him: “Sorry, but even if everything goes well, you will not be able to speak anymore. Would you like to say something before I try to remove the malignant tumor?” The young man paused for a while, and then said aloud: “Praised be Jesus Christ!” We remember the words of our dear Lord Jesus Christ: “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (Jn 14:5), “I will do whatever you ask in my name” (Jn 14:13-14), and “remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).
St. John Paul II: “Only authentic witnesses can credibly speak the saving word”
Let me close with a marvelous prayer of an anonymous author (14th Century):
Christ has no hands; he has only our hands
to do his work today.
He has no feet; he has only our feet
to lead humanity in his pathway.
Christ has no lips; he has only our lips
to speak of himself to human beings.
He has no help; he has only our help
to bring men and women into the fold.
We are the one and only Bible that people still read.
We are the last message of God,
written in words and deeds.