We Catholics tend to shy away from spiritual vulnerability, a kind of real intimacy and relationship. We suspect emotionalism — a kind of fluctuating faith anchored in ever-changing emotions. That’s for “those evangelicals” whom we perceive to go from church to church, high to high, we think.
For many of us, faith is about being a good solider. Following the rules. Duty. It’s about something we accomplish by sheer act of the will. Sure, there may be a heart piece, but it’s strictly private, interior, and in the grand scheme of things, inconsequential. Hear the congregation utter in unconvincing monotone, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say rejoice.”
And many of us are spiritually beleaguered. Our faith witness is often a flat-line, if not grumpy. Hardly the portrait of one who has been a beneficiary to Christ’s promise: “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4:14)
Is it possible our ritual sufficiency is resulting in a relational deficiency?
Perhaps in this day we are being invited to open wide the door to the realm of interpersonal human experience with our God. Indeed, this is what we were designed for: we are temples of the living God! (1 Cor. 6:19-20) Jesus promised us that external law and observance would no longer be the basis of our connection to Him: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Jer. 31:33)
To my Catholic brothers and sisters, let us listen, understand, and be challenged by the words of a great evangelical:
Christian faith is not only a matter of believing that certain things are true, but above all a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is an encounter with the Son of God that gives new energy to the whole of our existence” — Pope Benedict. XVI
Thank you Pope Benedict for your persistent challenges — for your awareness of our real need, the hope of personal and cultural transformation.
May the mighty power of God in the Holy Spirit fall upon us all and awaken us to His great love in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.