I am currently reading Pope Benedict’s book, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Living anew in south Louisiana, a traditionally Catholic area, I hope to become more conversant and dialogue with fellow Christians in the city. If we are to accomplish anything in our larger world, Christians of every type must work together. And the best way to do this is to understand what my neighbor believes.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no misperception that the average Catholic is reading this hardback book. But if the leaders of the Catholic Church feel this is the man who God wants speaking for the Roman Catholic Church worldwide, then it seems like a good place to start to compare and contrast my own beliefs about who Jesus was/is and what asks of us.
The thrust of his first chapter regards how the Christian faith is fundamentally different from many other religions. He writes that while all humans want to know what the future holds, and that many religions attempt to answer the question, that Christianity is really about the present, not the past or future. It is about being in communion with God. I love this quote:
“The disciple that walks with Jesus is thus in communion with God. And that is what redemption means: this stepping beyond the limits of human nature, which has been there as a possibility and an expectation in man, God’s image and likeness, since the moment of creation.
So far, there isn’t much of a contrast at all. I think he hits the mark. As a matter of fact, some of the off based things that have been done in the name of the faith have come from folks who suppose they precisely know the future and urge people to act on their personal interpretation.
Nevertheless, we also need to build up hope for the future. As Lesley reminded me today, “It’s fine to say God’s involved in the present, when the present is good. But what about when it’s not?”
Where is communion with God leading us, as he understands it? That’s the question I bring into chapter two.
More installments to come…