instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Who do I say that I am?

Sherry Weddell of the Catherine of Siena Institute does a nice bit about how Blessed Teresa of Calcutta didn't know she was "Mother Teresa" -- and how her bishop for sure didn't know -- when she decided to found her own religious order in her late 30s.

I don't know whether she ever did realize she was Mother Teresa, though the rest of the world did when it saw how she loved the poor.

The Gospels make it clear that a lot of people didn't know Jesus of Nazareth was Jesus, and once we get over the anachronistic romanticism that assumes His halo was visible at noon on a clear day, it's not hard to understand their doubt. Even people who had become His disciples found, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him," to be too hard to accept, and who can blame them?

And yet, Jesus seems to. Well, not blame, exactly, but He does hold people culpable for their failure to believe in Him. Something in what He said and did sufficed to establish the authority by which He said and did them. "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me." And just as His sheep knew that, in seeing Jesus, they weren't seeing just another wonderworker, they know that, in seeing Mother Teresa, they weren't seeing just another do-gooder.

Which raises the question: When those whom the Father has given to Christ see us, what do they see? Do they see Christ and His passion endured for their salvation, or do they see us and our own passions pursued for selfish reasons? If we dress up our own wills in the clothes of Christian surrender -- okay, yeah, that metaphor got away from me -- we may convince ourselves that we are making Christ present to the world, but we won't convince the world.

My will does not speak with the authority by which Christ's sheep know His voice. So when people don't follow me, I can conclude either that I am not speaking with Christ's voice, or that the people not following me do not belong to Him. The safe bet is obvious.