Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Are You Imitating The Real Jesus Christ?

We are called to imitate Christ. When we think of imitating Christ, the image we often get is that of a lowly, meek & pacifist demeanor. We envision the lowly birth in the manger, the life of poverty, having dinner with the lowly & the sinners, preaching a message of pacifism and "turning the other cheek" and doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. We picture the washing of the feet, the lamb led to the slaughter and the innocent Man who was silent before His accusers. These are all good images and good things to imitate. But we shouldn"t forget the other attributes of Christ that we ought to imitate as well.

Christ ate with the sinners and He forgave the adulteress of her sins. But He was very outspoken against religious corruption, the stubborn hearts of those who taught the Law, and against those who were so puffed up with pride in their own ways that they failed to recognize the very Spirit of God whom they claimed to serve. He spoke of sin and its seriousness not by saying "don"t worry, all your sins will be nailed to a cross" but by saying "if your eye causes you to sin then pluck it out!"1 & "man will give an account for every idle word"2 & "he who calls his brother a fool is in danger of hell fire"3. We are not to stand by idly while men pervert the word of God. We are to "guard what was entrusted to us"4 as Paul told Timothy to do. Each of us is a defender of that truth given to us and I have to wonder if God will hold him guiltless who keeps quiet while men teach evil doctrines.

Christ also knew the Scriptures. It is not for the clergymen alone to know the Scriptures. St. Jerome said "ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ" yet how is it that you claim to know Christ while you are mostly ignorant of the written Word? St. John Chrysostom scolded his parishioners for being well versed in secular songs & poetry while having not even so much as a Psalm memorized. How much more are we guilty of this! Again Paul commanded Timothy "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved"5.

And what of the apostles? Again, Paul said "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ"6 We can know in which manner we are to imitate Christ by watching the Apostles. We know how they behaved by reading the Scriptures and later the writings of the Church Fathers who succeeded them and even now in person by watching the Pope, the Cardinals, Bishops & Priests who carry the same title and how they imitate Christ. Bottom line: first step to imitating Christ > Know Christ. Its not through inner feelings that we know Him. It is through the revealed Word both written and handed down by the traditions of the Church and maintained by the Magisterium and the Roman Pontiff.


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