OK, that title above might be a little provocative. I am certainly not approaching the Year of Faith with a dismissive attitude. However, the “so what?” question is always key: we need to be able to explain what it is that we do as Catholics and why.
So, a Year of Faith…faith in WHAT? Faith in whom?
Simply put, our faith is not in a set of ideas or in an institution. It is in a person and that Person is JESUS CHRIST. The Year of Faith means nothing unless it is an opportunity to deepen our faith…our relationship…with Jesus Christ.
And so, my challenge (or invitation) to Catholics during the Year of Faith is to do some name-dropping. Mention the name of Jesus to others in the course of your day. Use his name as if you know him personally…because you do! And if you don’t, get to know him!
I’m amazed at how we Catholics can talk about all kinds of matters related to the faith and never mention the name of Jesus. I recall as a college student, joining the Holy Name Society (think about that title) in my parish: good men who worked hard to support the parish. We ran fundraisers, did clean up and repairs, organized a softball team, and numerous other things to support the parish. Not once can I recall one of these fine men in the Holy Name Society actually mentioning or talking about the holy name of Jesus!
What a revolution it would be if we Catholics even occasionally mentioned the name of Jesus in the course of our daily comings and goings. Certainly, if we are in the catechetical ministry, we need to learn how to talk about Jesus (not just about “the Church” or “the faith”) to others and to let others know that we have a personal relationship with Jesus and are seeking to grow in that relationship. The challenge for us is to find ways to talk about Jesus without sounding corny. I know that the last thing I want is for people to think that I’m Ned Flanders from The Simpsons.
So, as part of my challenge, I’m asking you to send in suggestions for ways that Catholics can very naturally mention the name of Jesus during the course of their day in such a way that it is authentic and not hokey. My example comes from the President-emeritus of Loyola Press, Fr. George Lane, SJ, who never hesitates to blurt out, “Thank you, Jesus” when he hears good news! It sounds perfectly natural when he says that and it brings a smile to the faces of people around him. Since it’s obvious he knows Jesus, it makes others want to know him so that, by being in his company, they feel that they are in Jesus’ company. We come to know Jesus by knowing people who know Jesus. Make sense?
I look forward to hearing your suggestions. I especially want to hear from catechists about ways that we can do some divine name-dropping in our teaching (for example: “Stop talking….you won’t be able to hear Jesus speaking to you!”)
May God bless our Year of Faith and may we each grow closer to Jesus and invite others to come to know him as well!