A Life-Changing Faith
12/1/2010by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson
The French Catholic writer Charles Péguy (1873-1914) observed, "For the first time since Jesus, we have seen, under our very eyes … a new world arise … after Jesus and without Jesus." Péguy was speaking about recent events in the Europe of his day, but as we reflect on these words a century later, we must admit that the cultural trend about which he spoke has become more pronounced in Europe and throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Despite Péguy's sobering outlook, we can experience a faith that is profound and life-changing. We have seen the great saints of our time — such as Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II — and have met other saints known only to their neighbors and colleagues.
We are faced, then, with the great mystery that some accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ and others reject it. Consider the story of the encounter between Zacchaeus, the tax collector, and Jesus. When the Lord announces that he will stay with Zacchaeus, who has climbed a tree to see him, the crowd grumbles: "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner." Yet, Jesus says, "Today salvation has come to this house" (Lk 19:9).
All the people assembled that day saw the same Jesus and heard his words. But while it was a day of faith and salvation for Zacchaeus, others left grumbling in opposition.
The lives of some today are likewise changed forever when confronted with the living reality of Jesus Christ, while others simply walk away with continued disbelief.
In the end, we each stand before the very mystery of creation and cannot escape the question that it presents to us: Is this universe a reality that is beneficent, malevolent or simply indifferent?
For thousands of years, countless human beings believed that the universe was a malevolent or an indifferent reality. But the Book of Wisdom reminds us that the universe is neither of these: "For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned. And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?" (Wis 11:24-25).
We know, too, that the Lord so loves the world that he sent his only Son to redeem it (cf. Jn 3:16). Because of the reality of God's love, we have been liberated from the absurd futility of a meaningless existence before an indifferent cosmos. Instead, we have the privilege of praying to God with the words "Our Father" and trusting in a redeemer who treats us as a brother.
The world today stands in judgment of our faith, and we are faced with the question, "Is it really possible to live in a way that shows the promises of Christ to be true?" As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in his encyclical Spe Salvi, people who possess Christian faith and hope live differently.
As Knights of Columbus, we greet each other with the words, "Vivat Jesus!" These words testify to the fact that we place our faith in a living reality — a reality that makes a difference in the way we live. Furthermore, we dedicate ourselves to the principles of charity, unity and fraternity — not for some special few, but for all, just as the Gospel requires.
We stand in solidarity with our bishops and priests — those men who, like Zacchaeus, have stood before Jesus in faith and have said, "yes." They have dedicated their lives to trusting in the promises of Christ and to testifying not only for the good of the Christian community, but also for the common good of society as a whole.
And now, as we await the coming of our Savior's birth, we must rededicate ourselves to the work of the new evangelization. United in faith and hope, in charity and fraternity, we are called to seek the Lord and receive the salvation that he brings.