Friday, March 30, 2012

And You... Who Do You Say That I Am?

One thing (or I should say, one Person) is central to cloister of the heart.  Without Him, there is really no point to either spiritual or physical monasticism. 

Oh, but there are monastics of other faiths besides Christianity, some might remind me.  True.  But their focus is not upon a Savior, for they have none.  They do not have a Messiah who suffered and died to free them from their sins.  I think Thomas Merton, in the book The Monastic Journey (Sheed, Andrews & McNeel Inc., Kansas City), put it well when he wrote:  “The pagan has no Christ, no Holy Spirit, perhaps even no personal God at all.  He has to struggle upward to union with the ‘Supreme Being’ - ‘The Absolute’ - by sheer force of his own will and by his own fortitude, relying on his own battery of religious practices.  His task is one of almost unbelievable difficulty - and this explains why pagan religions are all shot through with compromise and despair…. Besides, with all the subtlety and heroism of the purest techniques of natural religion - what does man finally encounter?  Not God - only himself.  His purified self, if you like, but still it is only himself.”

I do not want to spend my days in the spiritual cloister with only myself.  What a useless, fruitless, joyless, un-doable stretch of days that would be.  My focus is not on monasticism, but upon the Lord of the Monastery.  And who is that Lord?

In one of His discussions with His disciples, Jesus asked “who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  There were several answers before Jesus turned the question into something more personal.  “And you… who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13-15)

Scripture answers this question.  Jesus is the “reflection of the Father’s glory, the exact representation of the Father’s Being.”  (Hebrews 1:3).  Jesus is the Messiah (Mark 14:61-62)… . 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us plainly: “He is the only Son of the Father, He is God himself.”  (#454).  This is Who Jesus is, in His essence. 

What if Jesus were to stand before me, this very day, look intently into my eyes, and ask me personally:  “And YOU.  Who do YOU say that I am?......”  

How would I respond?

For prayer:

“This Jesus is the stone rejected by the builders which has become the cornerstone.  There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved.”  (Acts 4:11-12)

“At Jesus’ name, every knee must bend, in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father; Jesus Christ is LORD!” (Philippians 2:10-11)

“And you…. who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

Text not in quotes

(For a brief message from Pope Benedict XVI about the centrality of Jesus, click here)

(This post is part of Catholic Bloggers' Network monthly Round Up)