11 May 2009

'What would Jesus do (or say)?'

Pope Benedict at Wadi Kharrar, Jordan, the reputed location of Jesus' baptism by St John the Baptist.

What would Jesus do?’ is an expression I come across fairly often in comments in blogs. It is often, though not always, accompanied by a viewpoint at variance with the teaching of the Church. Wikipedia traces the popularity, though not the origin, of the phrase, to an 1896 novel by American writer Charles Sheldon, In His Steps. (You have to careful in referring to or quoting Wikipedia. Today’s Irish Times carries a story of how shocked an Irish university student was when he discovered that a quote he wrote and attributed to French composer Maurice Jarre after his death in March and placed on Wikipedia, was quoted in papers throughout the world. The student eventually emailed them to tell them that it was a hoax, though by way of an experiment rather than an effort to deceive anyone).

Pope Benedict in Jordan

A variation of ‘What would Jesus do?’ is ‘What would Jesus say?’ Today’s gospel gives us a clear answer: These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (Jn 14:25-26).

The Last Supper, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1524-25

That is what Jesus told us when he spoke to the apostles at the Last Supper. He speaks to us today through the teaching authority of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit. Part of the expression of that is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
My suggestion is that if you want to know what Jesus would say or do, check what the Church teaches, because that is where he speaks to us and calls us to do what he and the Father want us to do.

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