The jewels of the faith PART ONE – Jan 22
This year as we focus attention on the second Synod priority Revitalising Catholic Culture and Identity, it is important for us to explore the jewels of our faith and their roots. These are referred to as jewels because they are priceless in helping us reach the heart of God. These are God’s gifts to us as believers in Jesus Christ, who himself is the pathway to the Father. Jesus who is the most priceless gift of the Father is also the truth about the triune God we are journeying to and searching for. By accepting this truth revealed in Christ Jesus and walking in Him, with Him and through Him we will encounter the Father, the Godhead. As catechists, it is important that we reflect often on what we are teaching, why we are teaching it and what is the goal of our teaching. Our goal must always be encounter with God through Jesus Christ.
The Eucharist is the heart and core of who we are as Catholics. We believe Jesus is the way to the Father. In the Eucharist we encounter Jesus as individuals and as a Christian community. This helps us appreciate the fact that Christians, believers in Christ, cannot live in isolation but must exist as community. The celebration of the Eucharist gives us the experience of the early Christian community who were recognised for the breaking of bread and for the love that they shared. It is important that we teach our children the deeper meaning of the Eucharist and continue to learn and discover the depths of this mystery as we too continue our Christian journey. The Eucharist empowers us to serve our brothers and sisters and it gives us the strength to do so. Through partaking in the Eucharist we live and move and have our being in Christ. We sometimes forget the true essence of this gift and it is important that we begin a process of reminding ourselves and helping the people of God in our parishes and schools to come to a deep awareness of this mystery and its call to conversion, solidarity and discipleship.
The Church is the sacrament of Jesus and the presence of Christ in the world today. On the first Pentecost, the third person of the Blessed Trinity came with power and might to strengthen the Church to continue the mission of Christ. The mission of Christ is to break the bonds of original sin and provide a way for fallen humanity to reach total harmony with God, neighbour, creation and self. The most Holy Trinity is present in the Church in a very special way to help us with this mission.
The Church’s very foundation speaks of this presence and reveals who we are as the people of God. Just as the Israelites were the chosen people of God and were represented by 12 tribes and a covenant, so too, Jesus called 12 disciples to represent the restoration of God’s people. The Church therefore became the new Israel and Jesus the new and everlasting covenant. We are the People of God whose history is recorded in the Old Testament. The psalms remind us that we are the apple of God’s eye and invite us to live in a covenantal relationship with God.
As catechists it is important that we reflect on what living in covenantal relationship with God means. It is important that we help children and those we catechise to appreciate that God loves us and that we must be open to receive and live in the love of God. Spiritual directors are continuously advocating that accepting God’s love is far more important to God and our well-being rather than trying to love God. When we acknowledge God’s love we begin to grow more and more into the image and likeness of God who created us. As we grow in this image, our natural response is to love God, love neighbour, love creation and love self. This brings about a harmonious living that will renew and transform our world, promoting the reign of God in our hearts and in our world. The Church is a gift that helps us with this journey of building God’s kingdom here on earth, a kingdom of harmony.
There are many other images of the Church that we ought to reflect on so as to be constantly renewed and grow into what God meant us to be. The Church as the Body of Christ, Bride of Christ, Suffering Servant, People of God, Community of Disciples, etc. are all images that help us to understand the depths of this sacred mystery, the Church. – Bernadette Gopaul-Ramkhalawan, VCC/CERO South/Central Archdiocesan Catechetical Office