Three Fridays ago we started our First DVD Session on “Catholicism”. In the first session, Fr Robert Barron (now Bishop) sheds light and explains the conviction of the Catholic Faith that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah, and the revelation of God become man. He shows how Jesus fulfils the prophecies of the expected Messiah, according to the Old and New Testaments, but in a very unexpected manner. The living legacy of Christ, God and Messiah, is continually proclaimed by the Church, from the beginning, and out of that came the inspired word of God, the Bible.
Many sadly, get it wrong by reducing Christianity simply to another ‘Religion of the Book’ – and then takes a subjective interpretation of the Bible. No, we are the religion of the Person of Christ. Christianity hinges first and foremost on the identity of Jesus Without getting His identity right, His teachings can be erroneously reduced to just another one of many religious observation or message. It is not surprising that the question of His identity permeates Sacred Scriptures. This Sunday’s Gospel passage has Our Lord asking: ‘Who do the crowds say I am?”. When the disciples answered that the people thought He was the reincarnation of one of the ancient prophets, he refocused His question: “But you, who do YOU say I am?” It was St Peter, the first amongst the apostles, who recognised the fullness of Jesus’ identity: “You are the Christ of God”. Jesus is the expected Messiah, but He is also God incarnated man. He is God who without losing His Divinity, assumed our humanity.
Do not get me wrong, the ‘Book’ (the Bible), is very important as it the word of God. Scripture Professor, Scott Hahn, a protestant minister who converted to Catholicism spells this out beautifully:
“The word of God is Scripture. The Word of God is Jesus. This close association between God’s written word and his eternal Word is intentional and has been the custom of the Church since the first generation. “All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ, ‘because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ” (CCC 134). This does not mean that the Scriptures are divine in the same way that Jesus is divine. They are, rather, divinely inspired and, as such, are unique in world literature, just as the Incarnation of the eternal Word is unique in human history”
Jesus’ question: ‘Who do you say I AM?” is directed at us too. Unless we come to the right answer, we cannot come close to understanding Christianity.
God Bless, Fr Michael