Every now and then, when I was growing up, my father would tell my brothers and me, “Don’t ever forget that you are descended from the kings and queens of
It was my father’s way of doing what Moses did in our first reading, from Deuteronomy. Moses gives the words to tell the family history to the Jews about Abraham, the wandering Aramean, whose descendants became the 12 tribes of
So too do we recall our history every time we gather for the Eucharist. We come together and confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord because of His passion, death and resurrection. We say it again and again at every Mass: The Creed gives us words to tell our family history, the Eucharist recalls our family meal as central to who we are, the Memorial Acclamation gives our lips the words to confess that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again.
In recent weeks I have been driving home the need for believing in our hearts who Jesus is. And I labeled as a heresy the secret belief many of us have, that we earn our acceptance from God by being good, sinning less, and being a better person. There is a temptation for all of us who are secret heretics, to think that we really don’t need to believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord.
Do you remember the huge flap in the press 10 years ago when the
Imagine the effrontery of the Catholic Church to state unequivocally that “the theory of the limited, incomplete, or imperfect character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, . . . is contrary to the Church's faith. [The theory that what is revealed in Christianity can be found to be to that found in other religions, is contrary to the Church's faith.] Such a position would claim to be based on the notion that the truth about God cannot be grasped and manifested in its . . . completeness by any historical religion, neither by Christianity nor by Jesus Christ. ”
In other words, the truth simply put is that Jesus is Lord.
As we heard in today’s Gospel, Jesus was tempted in the desert. So are we tempted in, oh, so many ways. But the most serious temptation of our time is to think that that belief in the heart, about who Jesus is, is just one way among many ways to wend our way through life. No! “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.”
We don’t have to jump to wondering how non-believers will fare in the Judgment. That’s for God to figure out. But our belief that is anchored in our hearts is that Jesus is the one who justifies us, forgives us, makes us be in right relationship with the Father and with each other. In other words, we need to be reminded again and again who we are. And who are we? We are sons and daughters of God, brothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.
By our baptism we are not just descended from the kings and queens of some ancestral homeland. We are brothers and sisters of Jesus who is Lord, who is God, who redeemed us, justified us, and who makes us right before God and man.
Let us today recommit ourselves to Jesus as Lord. Let us ask Him to help us be faithful to Him, to hunger for Him, to desire Him, to center our lives on Him, to love as He loves, to do as He would do, and to pass on this dignity of who we are to the next generation.