Trying to go down a deeper path towards Christ has revealed much to me. One thing I want to touch on is something that I feel is lacking for many Christians (Catholics included): a true understanding of Jesus Christ. I will spend the rest of the post unraveling this further.
To begin, I have to state that I make no claim to know Jesus Christ in his entirety (yet), though this is a desire of mine. I found something striking as I have been progressing in trying to know who Christ truly is. Reading through the New Testament the second time around, there are some striking things about Jesus that stand out for me about Him: His mercy, justice, compassion, admonishment, detachment, obedience, humility, and so forth. Growing up, I would say that the Jesus that was often presented to me during mass was more or less Jesus as your friend, Jesus as the merciful, etc. Now, these are perhaps parts of who He is, but when I started reading about how just He is, how He admonishes the pharisees, and even the apostles, this for the first time revealed another side of Him to me. Yes, Jesus is loving and merciful, but He is also just, and will be our severe judge when we meet Him when we die. Yes, Jesus meets sinners where they are at, but He also tells them not to sin again. Yes, Jesus is our savior, but He is also our King. So what’s happening here? Why does it seem like the world is only offering a 1-dimensional view of Jesus Christ?
We see this 1-dimensional view of Christ often with Protestants. A common example of this is taking certain passages quoted by St. Paul, removing anything before and after, and then forming a particular belief system based on that. With Protestants, every one of them is able to do this for they are the sole authority on scripture, as opposed to Catholics who have the Church. Well, you would hope that since we are not Protestant, and that we possess the entirety of truth, we would offer a complete, 3-dimensional view of Christ. Unfortunately, this is not done, or is done very poorly.
We have in some regards, especially in the last decades, have taking our 3-dimensional understanding of Christ, and reduced Him to a very simple 1-dimensional God. All this is done through the enemy, and it is done in a very subtle way. For example, most in the Church will not openly claim there is no hell (for that is heresy), however, they often do not openly claim hell’s existence either. Most will openly claim that Jesus is loving, but not often claim that Jesus is also our severe judge at the end. The strategy employed here is reducing the understanding of Christ by simply not proclaiming Christ as He truly is. It really is a clever deception, and deception it truly is. The enemy, realizing that open heresy exposes him too easily to the correction of saintly men and women, has decided to do a different type of heresy: a heresy done in the shadows, one that is done, not by twisting words or doctrine, but simply not speaking about them. You just have to look at the results from PEW research (PEW Research). In 2015, 63% of Catholics believed in hell, while 85% believed in heaven. How can this be? How can you accept one reality of the faith, but not the other? Well, its simple. Just don’t speak of hell. The result is self-evident.
This is but one example, just one. My concern is how far have we reduced Christ? How many more examples are there where we have reduced Him to only a shadow of who He really is? This concerns me greatly, and through my own spiritual journey, I see that there are many areas where the true understanding of Christ is simply not spoken of anymore. Whether intentional, or done out of ignorance, the result is the same: as a whole, we have lost our true understanding of Jesus Christ. Instead of looking at Him in His entirety, we only see fractions of Him. It is not a coincidence either that we only see specific parts, for the enemy is very deliberative in what aspects of Christ are hidden from view. We as the Catholic Church must proclaim Him as He truly is, else we have simply reduced ourselves to a Protestant understanding of Christ: we make Christ who we want Him to be, rather than seeing Him as He truly is. This has huge ramifications in all aspects of the Church, especially evangelization. One should stop and think: am I proclaiming to the world who Christ truly is? Am I sure that I even understand who He is? What truths about Him have been hidden from me? We have to take this seriously, lest we lead souls astray in our attempt to bring them into the fold:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves – Matthew 23:15
The solution to all this? Each of us need to make a firm commitment to understand who Christ truly is. I would say, all that is required in the beginning is a desire to know who Christ is. He will do the rest. He will draw us to Him through the sacraments, prayer, scripture, mortification, etc. but He wants us to surrender our will first. This requires some humility, no doubt, but the Spirit will take over at that point. It will not happen over night for most, it will take time. Perseverance, and the desire to know Christ will prevail in time. Light from the Spirit will come as need be, and in time we will see Christ as all the saints saw Him. Only when we know the true Christ, will we be able to offer Him to the rest of the world.
Blessed Mother, by your prayers and intercession, lead us to the true Jesus Christ!