First of all, let’s get the important things out of the way.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Even though, for many of us, it is not yet a new year, and for others of us, that well-wish has come and gone repeatedly, and quite frankly, you’re a wee bit tired of hearing it.
Despite all this, the sentiment is the same: I wish you all a wonderful new year full of blessings.
I became Catholic.
I know. It’s been a while since I posted, and in that time I became Catholic. In November. It was awesome. I got to celebrate with my kiddos and fellow teachers at a weekday Mass, and it was wonderful and amazing and blessed in every possible way. I’ll have to fill you in about it at a later date and time, because… c’mon… that’s kind of a big deal.
What was I going to post about? Oh, yes. Christ. The Catholic Christ. Or rather, my interpretation of the “Catholic Christ”.
Just to clarify, no, there’s no such thing as a “Catholic Christ”. Christ is Christ. He’s not Catholic or Methodist or non-denominational. He’s the reason we join together to worship and he doesn’t prefer one group to another (although we like to think he does). Because we all have different interpretations of who Christ is, don’t we? And it’s probably all based on the idea that “our Christ” likes the way we do things the best. Amiright? (Of course I’m right. You wouldn’t be reading my blog if I wasn’t…)
I kid, I kid.
*Awkwardly clears throat*
Sorry. I digress.
Okay, so we all have this idea or image of Christ. And if we’re being honest, the image we have of Christ probably differs depending on what kind of church we go to. Some Christ’s are vengeful and angry. Others are happy and genial. And still others are sad and weepy.
My image of Christ was always that of a loving Father. A father who is so in love with His children, that nothing they can do can erase His love for them. A father who wants to see His children succeed and be happy. A father who wants to give good gifts to His children. A father who wants to care for, lead, guide, and love His children. A father who richly rewards His children with the love, grace, joy, peace and blessings they never deserve.
Now before you go getting all uppity because my image of Christ is too happy, and too “Joel Osteen”-y, and too… Protestant, understand that my image of Christ is not one-dimensional either. That loving father is also the father who flipped the merchant’s tables in the temple, the father who put the pharisees in their places, and the father who never minced words, but always corrected and exhorted His children. Christ wasn’t some hippy-dippy, peace-loving guru. He also displayed righteous indignation and spoke forth the truth boldly. But that’s what most good fathers do, isn’t it? (Or rather what they should do…) They’re loving but firm. Generous but strict. Understanding but willing to correct and redirect.
So, this… this has been my image, interpretation and idea of Jesus for as long as I can remember.
And then I became Catholic.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m misinterpreting things. Maybe I’m not fully understanding something, but… The Catholic Christ? Well… he’s always…
And… I’m sorry… if I am way out of line as I say this, I apologize profusely… but I don’t see my Father in that light.
Did Christ suffer horrible persecution, hatred, pain, agony and anguish in order to give us eternal life? Yes, Yes, YES! Absolutely!
Is it important that we remember exactly what He did and what He went through and what He accomplished through this suffering?
Totally! Yes. Absolutely.
But, should we only view our Christ through the lens of the agony He suffered on the cross?
Merrr…. I’m not so sure about that.
See… through viewing Jesus as my Father, I saw a man of victory and strength. A man of courage and truth. And because of this, when thinking about my Father, I was always reminded of the verse from John 10:10.
The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
That’s my heavenly father. A Father of Abundant LIFE. The antithesis to the evil one, who steals, kills and destroys. The same evil one who thought he had won the victory when he killed and destroyed our savior on the cross. But he thought wrong. Because precisely the opposite happened. The VICTORY was won through that crucifixion! LIFE… ABUNDANT LIFE had come through that crucifixion!
So, it strikes me as somewhat… counter-intuitive to focus on the suffering and the death of our Christ rather than the abundant victory that came as a result of that death. Jesus lives and reigns forever. Death could not defeat Him. The grave could not hold Him.
Granted, it was the suffering that won us the victory. And granted, our Lord weeps for His prodigal children, for His lost sheep, for the suffering His children endure being separated from Him, but… I don’t view my Father as weeping for me. I see Him as rejoicing over me, cheering me on, offering new ABUNDANT life as His beloved daughter.
And that’s how I choose to continue to view Him.
Is that wrong?