Friday, August 5, 2011

Second Catechesis for World Youth Day

Soon I will be in Madrid, participating in the World Youth Days as a bishop-catechist. In my previous post, I presented the theme of the first of the three catecheses or faith-lessons I will be giving to groups of French-speaking participants. This week, I want to share with you the outlines of my second catechesis. Its theme, continuing to build on Colossians 2:7, will be “Established in Jesus Christ”.

Young people are laying the foundations for their lives. Choosing the cornerstone of that foundation is among the most serious decisions they will ever make. Our post-modern society suggests that there are no solid cornerstones to be found, that one should simply build willy-nilly following the fashions of the day or the desires of the moment. But this leads to rootless lives, lives that have no direction, no purpose, no meaning.

The Christian faith proposes that the only true and faithful cornerstone is Jesus-Christ himself. To choose to be “established in Christ” means to set Jesus at the very heart of our lives, to live a deep, personal relationship with him. As Benedict XVI once wrote: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”. To be a Christian means to be “grafted” to Christ like branches to a vine: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).

Such a proposition invites each of us to reflect deeply on the question: “Who is Jesus Christ for me?” Different people will give different answers to this question, depending on their knowledge, life experience, commitments and faith. For the Church, the answer is clear: Jesus is God who became a human being like us. He is the Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. In his conception and birth, God became present and close to us. Jesus Christ manifests the Love of God the Father who entered into the lives of humankind .

Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6) because he is the Saviour who freed us from sin and death. In the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, he fully reveals humanity to itself and brings to light its very high calling. Jesus Christ is God’s response to the great aspirations of humankind.

However, there is even more to the reality of Jesus. Not only does he stand before us as the ultimate revelation of God’s mystery and our humanity, Jesus also wants to draw us into his circle of friends. He wants to establish a covenant with us. He invites us to live with Him in every aspect of our lives. He invites us to be holy. Holiness is the fullness of life in Christ.

Like the Apostle Thomas after the resurrection, we would like to be able to see, to touch, to hear Jesus. The gift of faith allows us to hear him in the Gospels, to touch him in the sacraments, to see him in the poor and the needy. In prayer, we can converse with him and learn to put our trust in him.

We have been baptized in Christ; but our baptism means very little if we do not truly enter into relationship with Christ, responding with all our being to the love he has for us. This is what it means to be “established in Jesus Christ”.

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