So, today I begin a new series of articles entitled, “The Imitation of Christ.” That, of course, is the name of a beloved spiritual classic, a collection of beautiful reflections, dating to the 14th century, and attributed to Thomas a’ Kempis.
But, the “imitation of Christ” also describes the goal of our entire Christian life. Everything we do should help us become more like Jesus, in our thoughts, words and deeds. So, in this column I’ll share some personal reflections on the people, places and things that help us to grow in the imitation of Christ. I hope you find them helpful.
And today we begin with the most basic of premises – that’s it’s a good and holy thing to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the “leader and perfector of our faith,” as the Letter to the Hebrews has it.
Years ago, an elderly monsignor walked into a brand new church in a small town of Ohio. Looking for the tabernacle, which had been closeted in a remote room, the venerable priest asked, in a raspy but demanding voice, “Where’s Jesus?”
“Where’s Jesus?” That’s a question many of us might be asking these days, especially in light of the turbulence of the Church and world that has shaken us. And we know that turbulence can rattle our personal lives too, in tough times of illness, death, and family crises. Or perhaps your faith has just become stagnant, dry and lifeless, and Jesus seems so distant.
How, then, do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus? How do we stay close to him? How do we experience the warmth and security of his embrace?
Pope Benedict explained that “The Christian life is essentially marked by an encounter with Jesus Christ who calls us to follow him.”
So, there it is – your Catholic Faith is the bridge that keeps you connected to Jesus. In your personal prayer, by receiving the sacraments, by keeping the Commandments, in serving the poor, and in your devotion to the saints, you encounter Jesus and experience the warmth of his love.
Something to think about: Are you as close to Jesus as you used to be? Are you as close to Jesus as you want to be? How can you grow in your friendship with Christ?