Believing and Doing the Works

“Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do.” (John 14:12)

Returning from Mass by Francisco Gras
Returning from Mass by Francisco Gras

First-Holy-Communion Day! A day of young faith in Christ. We believe in Him, the Son of God. May it please the Lord to give all of us childlike faith–childlike faith in Jesus, our Savior, our Master, our Model, our Teacher, our Lord. May we all have the feelings for Him that a child has.

I can remember pretty vividly how much I loved Jesus when I was little. I admired Him without even thinking about it, spontaneously, and I wanted to be close to Him. Perhaps many of us can remember meditating on Christ’s Passion in our young minds, marveling at His courage, His clarity of purpose, His sincerity, and, above all, His genuinely selfless love. I spent a lot of time when I was a boy thinking about Jesus’ cross, about how He suffered and died.

And, of course, there is nothing more truly youthful than believing in the Resurrection. I remember imagining Easter Sunday morning in my little mind, picturing the garden, and Mary Magdalen searching, and Jesus, full of light, greeting her, greeting the day, standing, smiling in the new spring air.

wwjd braceletsI can honestly say that I never cared a whit about the Easter bunny. Even as a child, I thought the Easter bunny was something ridiculous and boring. But: Jesus on Easter Sunday morning, the sunlight rising, his robe ruffling a little bit in the breeze—that was a beautiful thing to imagine while eating a little chocolate rabbit, or some jelly beans, and waiting for mom and dad to get dressed for church.

So: We believe with the faith of children. We are not too proud to admit that. We believe what our young ones believe about Jesus, and we pray for the grace to believe it just like our young ones believe it. Therefore–as the Lord put it–since we believe in Jesus, the next order of business is for us to do works like His.

Again our childlike admiration for Him will help us the most. Who He is, how He sees, how He thinks, how He acts—the devotion to Him we have from our youth gives us our best help in imitating Him.

Now, yes, it is true that sometimes we find ourselves in unique, grown-up situations when we need help answering the question ‘WWJD?’ Sometimes we cannot make our way as real disciples without the advice of someone who has studied moral theology.

eucharistBut, most of the time, our young knowledge of Christ and His works really does guide us best.

WWJD? Smile and try to make friends. WWJD? Help my neighbor in need, instead of stopping to analyze. WWJD? Stay close to the poor people, the suffering, the sick, the forgotten, and the confused.

And how about the flipside—WWJ not D? Pick a fight. Judge my neighbor more harshly than myself. Tear someone down behind his or her back. Whine. Sulk. Pout. WWJ never D? One glance at the crucifix teaches us: Be selfish. The works of Jesus are strong, grounded, never desperate, neither patronizing nor fawning, always aimed at what is truly good, religious in the deepest-possible way. And never selfish.

He promises us that we who believe will do His works. Yes, sometimes we fall short; we fail. But He forgives, and He never gives up on us.

Listen, our churches needs to be more crowded. At my parishes, I know that the main failure is my own. If I, the priest, were a better Christian, then there would be more Christians frequenting the building more often.

But let’s all humble ourselves and say the same. We all have the duty of loving our neighbors into the building. That duty falls on each of us. And we do that duty by believing in Jesus and doing His works.

Let’s put it like this: Human life is a question. A question. Our lives are not an answer. Nor are they a picnic, a car ride, or a video game. Our lives are a question, the deepest question; they are all the standard questions rolled into one: How? What? Where? Who? When? Why? Human life is all these questions rolled into one.

And the answer is: Jesus Christ. That is the answer. He is the answer. Everyone needs this answer, because He truly is the only living answer. All the other answers, when you get right down to it, are not really alive. Jesus is the living, breathing answer to the question of life.

We believe in Him. Let’s do His works, and share the answer with our neighbors.

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