If I ask you all the question, “Who is Jesus?” many of you would correctly tell me, “He is the Son of God” or “the Messiah” or “the savior of the world.”
All of those are the right answer, but if I ask you to tell me who Jesus is personally to you, how would you answer?
It is one thing to know about Jesus; it is wholly different to know Jesus. The essence of the Christian faith, the entirety of our journey of faith, is not knowing about Jesus; rather, it is about knowing Jesus and always turning to him for help in the midst of our uncertain lives.
But in order to know Jesus, we must believe that He is who He says He is, and who John the Baptist says He is.
In the first chapter of John’s Gospel, John the Baptist says: “a man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me … now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
How could Jesus exist before John the Baptist when, as we know from Luke’s Gospel, John was born six months before Jesus?
The answer to this question is that God the Son, the Word, never had a beginning and never has an end; this Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Simply put, Jesus is God in the flesh, or God Incarnate.
I think most of us, I would hope, believe this and don’t think twice about it. But if we believe it and profess our faith in that belief, how many of us actually listen to his words and strive to live by his example?
Some of us might think that we simply follow Jesus’ example as outlined in Matthew 25: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me.”
While it is true that following Jesus’ example by serving others is really important, what is most important is testifying with our lives, as He did, as John the Baptist did, and as all the saints have done: by trusting completely and wholeheartedly in the Father all the way to the end.
Even in moments of danger, Jesus never allowed fear to dominate Him and compromise His faith. I think all of us have given into fear and doubt many times in our lives and as a result, have made bad choices that we have to live with. It would seem that trusting in the Father the way Jesus did would be impossible. And it is, without His help.
But if we truly believe Jesus is God the Son, and that he has the power over all evil and darkness in the world, then we who have been baptized into the same faith as He had, also possess the power to live as He did, and to have faith and to trust as He did.
This is why baptism is such a gift and is so necessary if we are going to have the abundant spiritual life as God wants us to. The gift of our baptism enables us to love as Jesus loved, to trust as Jesus trusted and to have faith as Jesus had faith.
Unfortunately, many of us doubt this power and we turn away from God when life becomes difficult, and take matters into our own hands, which ultimately leads to bad choices and a destructive lifestyle. But it does not have to be this way.
If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and is the Word of God who has come in the flesh, have confidence that God will enable you to trust as He trusted.
I will end with a quote from St. Ambrose of Milan:
“When we find ourselves in some grave danger we must not lose courage but firmly trust in God, for where there is the greatest danger, there is also the greatest help from the one who wants to be called our ‘help’ in times of peace and in times of trouble.”
The Rev. Chris Downey is pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Killeen.