Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekly update from CCM

Dear Students,

For most of you, today is your last day of classes until next Monday, so I hope you all enjoy your brief respite.  May it be relaxing and renewing for you!  Please travel safe, those of you headed out of town, and we will see you back here next week.

In light of our mid-term break, our regular activities at the Catholic Student Center are on hold for this week.  So no Wednesday dinner and no Friday Adoration.  We WILL be having Mass, as usual, here next Sunday (March 4) at 7:30pm.  

A brief teaser for the following week: on Wednesday, March 7, we will be joined at our 6:30 dinner together by a representative from Crossroads.  This is a pro-life organization founded in 1995 by a student at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH, in response to John Paul II's call to take the Gospel of Life out into the streets.  They organize a walk across our nation each summer in defense of human life.  We welcome them next week to WCU and invite them to speak about their wonderful ministry.  You don't want to miss it!

Politics and religion, especially the Catholic religion, have been in the news a lot these past few weeks, in light of the HHS contraception mandate being forced upon Catholic institutions.  But that's not the only time religion and politics mix.  I read an editorial this week which appeared in one of our nation's major newspapers that attempted (unsuccessfully) to tackle this subject.  The author of the editorial, whom I shall not name, was attacking the Republican presidential candidates for claiming their policies are based in Biblical values.  His response to them was essentially, "They are not reading the same Bible I am."

He then went on to quote many of the words of Jesus in support of helping the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, welcoming the immigrant, and so forth.  He used these words of Christ to support the goals and actions of the Democratic party in our country.  He also pointed out that nowhere does the Bible record Jesus saying anything about contraception, or abortion, or homosexual marriage -- a pointed jab at the Republican candidates who support a more socially conservative agenda.  

I feel ill any time I read an article like this where someone attempts to remake Jesus in our image, or in the image of whatever social movement we are trying to advocate.  It has been done many times, throughout history.  In the past 100 years, Jesus to many has been a hippy, a communist, a socialist, a capitalist, and an eastern guru.  I'm here to tell you now that Jesus is not a Republican or a Democrat.  Jesus is not a liberal or a conservative.  He's not a Libertarian, He's not a Tea Party member, and He supports neither the Giants nor the Patriots.  Jesus Christ is God, and somehow I think God is above all of our human divisions.

This is the question Jesus posed to the Apostles after they reported people were speculating that He was Elijah or John the Baptist.  Peter spoke up, and confessed that Jesus was (and is) "the Christ, the Son of the Living God."  This was not Peter's opinion.  This was Revelation.  Jesus told him, "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven."  

We are each called upon to give answer to the same question.  Who do we say that Jesus is?  Like Peter, our answer needs to be grounded in Divine Revelation - what has Jesus shown us about Himself.  Not what we would like Jesus to be, or what we need Him to be to advance our own agendas.  Being a Christian is nothing if not being in relationship with Jesus.  When I form a relationship with someone, I want to know them as they truly are, not as I imagine them to be.  That's not a real relationship, that's a fantasy.  A real relationship is based on knowing the other person truly for who they are.  We should strive always to know Jesus Christ as who He is, and form ourselves to His image, not the other way around.

So where do we go to learn about Christ?  Where is that Divine Revelation to be found?  Certainly in the Scriptures.  And for millions of Protestant Christians, the Bible is the only source of Revelation acknowledged by them.  So when they read an editorial like the one I mentioned, where the author claims that he and his political rivals "must be reading different Bibles," they are put in a quandary.  Which Bible is the right one?

Our editorialist was looking only at the words of Jesus, and making the claim that Jesus never condemned homosexual marriage or abortion, or contraception (the hot button social issues of the day).  I'm reminded of a person I once heard proclaim that she only read the "red words" in the Bible.  She was using a "red letter" edition that had all the words spoken by Christ printed in red ink.  To her mind, those were the only words worth reading, so she didn't read anything else.  We believe that the entire Bible is the Word of God.  The Catholic Church is wonderful about looking at the entirety of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, comprehensively, and drawing her teachings from that.

And of course, as Catholics, we do not believe that God's Revelation can only be found in the Bible.  Jesus Christ, after all, did not come to earth to write a book, but to establish a Church.  He called twelve men, gave them His authority, filled them with the Holy Spirit, and built the Church upon their foundation; a Church He promised would never fail.  That same Church exists today, and is the voice of Christ on earth.

That Church, to the joy of our editorial writer, does teach that we need to welcome the immigrant.  It does teach that we need to feed the hungry, care for the sick, and cloth the naked.  But, to the writer's frustration, the same Church also teaches that we need to respect the life of the unborn, that marriage is a sacrament established by God as the building block of society, geared towards the generation and raising of children, and as such is only possible between a man and a woman.  That same Church teaches that contraception denies the very life-giving gift that is our sexuality and turns it into something shallow and sterile and abusive.  

That Church speaks with the voice of Christ.  Like Christ, she is neither Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, communist or capitalist.  Like Christ, the Church is above such distinctions.  

So please, in your lives try to avoid the temptation to remake Christ in your own image; and avoid falling for the rhetoric of those who attempt to do so, especially for political or social gain.  Instead, strive as diligently as you can to remake yourself in Christ's image.  And nowhere will you find that image reflected more fully than in the Holy Catholic Church, the Body of Christ, the "pillar and bulwark of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).

God bless!

WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

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