Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Time to Get Back to Basics

Do you ever get the feeling that every aspect of your life has become fast-paced, frantic, and complicated?

You don’t? Really? Well, then you’ll have to tell me the secret of your serenity, because these days my life feels like I’m pedaling a bicycle in the middle of the Indianapolis 500. Everything is swirling around me at breakneck speed.

This sensation of being overloaded can also apply to our faith life. For example, I regularly visit eight or ten different Catholic websites for the latest news and commentary about the Church. This past year, obviously, has been especially newsworthy, with the sex abuse scandal and the McCarrick crimes taking center stage.

But it dawned on me recently that these websites hardly ever talk about Jesus. Their focus has been mostly on news stories, such as accusations, victims, settlements, cover-ups, secret files, grand juries, attorneys general, felony convictions, etc. There’s no doubt in my mind the people writing for these websites are faithful Catholics, but it seems the doctrines of the faith have taken a backseat.

Maybe it’s time once again to focus on the basics of why we call ourselves Catholic. I’m reminded of the old profession of faith we used to make during Mass: “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”

It doesn’t get any more basic than that. Three simple statements, but each incredibly profound, describing the core of the Christian faith.

Christ has died. This statement reminds us of the cross. Jesus willingly gave up his life to pay the price for our sins. Without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, our sins cannot be forgiven.

St. Paul was one of the most brilliant theologians in Church history. And yet, in his first letter to the Corinthians, he wrote, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

I suspect St. Paul was tempted to delve into deep theological topics during his sermons in Corinth. But he had to remind himself not to lose sight of basic beliefs, one of which is the fact Jesus was crucified and died for our sake.

Christ is risen. If Jesus simply died and stayed dead, then our faith is worthless. The
Resurrection makes everything else worthwhile. The moment Jesus walked out of that tomb, goodness conquered evil, and life conquered death. The Resurrection means that death no longer is the final chapter of our story. Physical death is now merely a transition from this earthly life to eternal life in Heaven.

Christ will come again. We often forget about this promise from the Lord. He clearly told us that He is coming back, and this time, no one will be confused about His identity. Some of us still might be alive here on earth when Jesus’ Second Coming occurs. But I suspect most of us by then will have had a second date and year carved into our tombstones.

Either way, we are going to see Jesus, the mighty and just judge. This third basic statement reminds us that our current situation in life is not going to last for long. There will come a time when our souls stand before the throne of the Most High God. It might be a good idea to start getting ready for this cosmic encounter, rather than do what most of us do: convince ourselves that we have plenty of time to think about stuff like that…later.

So, it’s probably time to dial back my Catholic website browsing. The current news is important, but not as important as focusing on the core doctrines of the faith, especially with Passion Sunday and Easter coming soon: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Hopefully, that will relieve the uncomfortable sensation of race cars swooshing past me as I frantically pedal along the Indianapolis Speedway.

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