When we got started as a nation, the idea of a national republic covering an area from ‘sea to shining sea’ was thought impossible. Republics were suspect: the idea was not universally embraced. Many thought monarchy the best and more reliable form of government, and it was assumed by many in Europe we would end up with one, or be split into a series of little countries. The Republic was known as a form of government, but thought inadequate for anything other than a city or small country, not one as big as America. St. Thomas Aquinas, writing about different kinds of government, knew of republics himself (there were republics such as Venice in his day) and thought a monarch who lived in his kingdom (and dependent on the goodwill of his subjects) was the ideal form of government for both Church and State alike.
It’s been hard work, and a struggle at times, however we’ve persevered. We’ve shown that a system like ours can stand the test of time. We’ve shown democracy is the best form of government.
Jesus disrespected because he was a hometown boy. “We know him,” is the main objection from the people of Nazareth. He had a reputation as a carpenter, and his entire family unit was known. In that time, it was thought the Messiah’s background would be unknown: he would come from a distant place and know one would know his origins. Jesus didn’t fit the bill: because he was a known quantity, he couldn’t be the Messiah, at least not in Nazareth. I think it’s true of us as well, that those we grow up with or think they know us don’t think about what we mean to those in another place.
Jesus was more than He seemed to be. Through His life, death and resurrection, He showed He was more than a carpenter from Nazareth. He showed that He is the savior of the world.
Christianity, Catholicism is disrespected. “We know what this is about,” and people assume we’re a group of people who let others do our thinking for us, we’re tied up with tons of little rules, and our main response of Faith is doing what we’re told. Doing what we’re told is important, under the right circumstances, but that’s not the core of our faith. The core of our faith is Christ; not the Savior we think He should be, or the Savior popular opinion makes Him out to be, but the one who walked among us, poured out His love in His Blood, and brings us to the Father. Catholicism is about looking at the whole Christ, and making Christ the model of all we do. Sure, that’s not easy to figure out at times, but our need to respect tradition means we don’t have to make it up for ourselves every 20 years or so, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
G.K. Chesterton once said that Christianity hasn’t been tried and found wanting, but found difficult and left untried. For us the most important thing is try, to take up the struggle of being together and being what Christ has made us to be.
The most important part of our faith as Catholics is the real presence of Christ. That’s what’s held us together for almost 2000 years, and will hold us together for the times to come. We share in Christ in the Eucharist, and that immediate contact is what keeps us going, what keeps us moving forward, what keeps us seeking for the best in ourselves and the best for our world. We strive to know Christ better, not to marginalize Him, but to embrace Him more fully. That’s what the people of Nazareth couldn’t get their heads around, and that’s something that’s a temptation for us: to be so comfortable with what we know of Christ we don’t seek farther.
Christ calls us to know Him better each day; calls us to have faith in His ability to raise us from our weaknesses to be something special for the sake of the world. In Christ, we live and move and have our being. We don’t know Christ because He’s our best buddy; we know Christ because He’s the center of our lives, and our model in becoming everything God wants us to be.