What is It?
When a road sign appears as we drive down the highways and byways, the oft repeated question comes, "What is it? What is it Daddeee?"
The signs are familiar to us, we've passed them by a thousand times. But for the Boy Wonder, everything is new. So we repeat them, we echo those words for him and he responds. The Greek word is katekhein. We call it catechesis!
Last week, at a beautiful retreat center in Lancaster County, I felt privileged to teach an intensive course on Blessed John Paul II's Theology of the Body to over 70 people from across the country and the world. In a certain sense, it was the same "old" Catholic teaching we've heard a thousand times; it was philosophical, densely theological, soaked in scripture, straight up Thomism. But for many of us, including myself, everything was new. It always is. Why?
Because we stepped out of our way to ask the question again, "What is it?" about the one thing we all, I have a feeling, have been assuming we already know so well; Christianity.
Herein lies the genius of John Paul II. He assumed nothing. He put his finger on the pulse of modern man, starting with himself, and asked the question, "What is it? What draws our hearts? What do we live for? Who am I? Who is God?"
This past week, we immersed ourselves in the Answer he had rediscovered. And it was not a program, or a list of prohibitions or principles, or a philosophy. It was a Person. A Communion of Persons to be exact. It was Love, rekindled.
“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it…. The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into him with all his own self... in order to find himself. If that profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself… In reality, the name for that deep amazement at man’s worth and dignity is the Gospel, that is to say: the Good News. It is also called Christianity.”
- Redemptor Hominis, 10
"What is it, Daddeee? Christianity?"
It is Heaven kissing earth. It is the Divine Rescue of the fallen who cannot get up on their own. It is the Romance that fires all romances, it is the embrace of all of our eros, our passion rising up, with all of God's agape, His Fire of Love rushing down upon us. It is our deep amazement, our deep wonder, at Life itself, at the superfluous beauty of the Gift! And behold, unless we become as little children, asking our questions again and again on the roads of this life, we cannot enter into that Wonder, which is also called... the Kingdom of Heaven.