4th Sunday of Easter
A telephone conversation I had the other day left me, at first perplexed. One of the questions I asked the caller was ‘are you a Catholic?’ “Oh yes” they replied. What was perplexing to me was that the caller didn’t see any problems, any tension between saying “oh yes I’m a Catholic” and the fact that by both the relationship they were in and by never going to mass on Sunday they were publicly breaking the commandments, ignoring the teachings of Christ and disobeying the law of the church. In addition the caller had had two children baptised and during the baptism ceremonies had publicly made a solemn promise to God to bring the children up as Catholics. A promise to God which they had completely failed to keep.
Now I don’t judge them, there are many reasons for why we do or fail to do things, but I was perplexed - why couldn’t they see the contradiction between saying ‘Yes I’m a Catholic’ and living as they did.
Then I asked a question - the answer to which immediately made it clear. “Do you believe Jesus is God?” I asked. “Well” they said “I believe there is a God”.
There you have it. In the words of St John in today’s second reading “Because the world refused to acknowledge him - therefore it does not acknowledge us”. You cannot understand the Catholic faith, the Catholic Church, what it means to be a Catholic, unless you know, or are growing in the knowledge and love of Jesus.
Listen to Jesus in the Gospel “I know my own and my own know me, just as I know the Father and the Father knows me”. Being a Catholic is first and foremost about being in love with Jesus, about having a personal relationship with him, knowing him, speaking to him and listening to him. Jesus offers us a share in his relationship with the Father. Each of us are called to have the same relationship with Jesus that he has with the Father. And it is this network of relationships throughout the world and throughout time, in heaven and on earth, all founded in the relationship between God the Father and God the Son, that makes the Catholic Church.
The foundation of this relationship is to know Jesus. To recognise that he is God, to know as St Peter says in the first reading, that the name of Jesus is the only one by which we can be saved.