Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What Would Jesus Do? What did Jesus Do?

The phrase "What Would Jesus Do" has once again become popular mainly through the use of "WWJD" bracelets. This is perhaps the question that St Martin of Tours would have asked when he gave his cloak to the beggar. The concept of imitatio dei (the imitation of God) has always formed the basis of the lives of the saints and ordinary faithful Catholics. The idea of the imitation of Christ is the central theme in Thomas a Kempis’ great spiritual classic, "The Imitation of Christ".
In recent times however this phrase has taken on a new meaning and you hear it being used to challenge the authority of the Church, usually in situations when someone thinks the Church is acting harshly. If a priest withholds communion from family members who are not Catholic then someone will say, " but, what would Jesus do?" If they really want to pressurise the priest they will say, "what would a loving Jesus do?"
The question is totally inappropriate because what they should be asking is what did Jesus do? What Jesus did was that he created a Church and he gave that Church authority to teach in His name. "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it."(Matthew 16:18). In order that we do not have any doubt about what Jesus would do in matters of faith or morals, we have a sure guide in the Church. If we have a problem with those teachings then we can be sure that the problem is on our side and not on the side of the Church and Our Lord.
Why did Jesus create a Church? Simply that He did not want to leave us by ourselves. He wanted to give us the experience of walking with Him and learning from Him the way that the disciples did. As God, Jesus does not discriminate against us on the basis of time. Just because we didn’t live at the time when Jesus did walk on this earth does not mean that we cannot have a deep personal relationship with Him. When Our Lord left this earth He did not leave us as orphans. Through the sacraments He has continued to bring us to new life, to feed us, to forgive us, to confirm us in our faith, to be present at our weddings as he was at Cana, to give us priests to perpetuate His presence and to be with us at our passing into eternity. Equally important, He has continued to teach us and to guide us. We are not like poor deserted children who have to wander between the confusing ideas of our time. What we have is the voice of Our Lord Jesus Christ speaking through the Church.