I forget who it was who said that there are far too many admirers of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and far too few followers. Even among those of us who have responded to God’s call to follow him there may still be a reluctance to give ourselves fully to him and to submit body and soul to his will for us. We say we are Catholic but do we live out our Catholic Faith on a moment by moment basis? It’s so easy to determine our own future in the Church and even carve out our own little empire in it.
Like the rest of us, Blessed John Henry Newman was very familiar with those words of Our Lord: Happy are those who hear the word of God and keep it.
Our Lord asked the people of his own day, just as he asks us today: “Why do you call me Lord, but not do what I command?” For Our Lord, the one who listens and doesn’t act is like a man who built a house without any foundation. The winds came and the flood rose and battered that house to the ground.
John Henry Newman spent a lifetime slowly but surely establishing a firm foundation upon which he could base his life of faith and his response to God’s call to follow him. Newman’s experience as an Anglican taught him a lesson that we Catholics sometimes miss. Too many people, even today, cling to the temptation to keep a tight grip on doctrine and miss its full expression in action. We know what we are supposed to believe, but we don’t believe this requires us to change our lives. And this is why we don’t move forward in our lives of faith, it’s why we get stuck in a rut, because we don’t have the courage to do what Cardinal Newman did and submit and abandon ourselves, body and soul, to the God who calls us to respond with faith, love, generosity and humility. Because we are selfish and prideful beings the temptation is always there to hold something back.
The challenge of the Gospel is to take what we believe in Christ and allow it to guide the way we live our lives. In this way we will discover that salvation is found not in what we know or what we say, but in what we do.
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us.