By Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel
Special to The Texas Catholic
God has made himself known to us through the created world around us, the sacred Scriptures and most perfectly in the person of his son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord told St. Phillip in the Gospels, “Phillip, he who has seen me, has seen the Father.” From these sources, we learn that God is an infinitely perfect being with no beginning and no end. We learn that he is all powerful and the center of truth and perfect love. We also learn that God creates and sustains that most perfect gift – life. Our blessed Lord teaches us that God loves each and every one of us and desires to share his life with us.
The great work of redemption begins with the initiative on God’s part to reach out to us and offer us forgiveness and everlasting life. Jesus Christ, the son of God, became a human being like us in all things but sin. He took upon his blessed self the sins of all persons of all times and offered himself in sacrifice to atone for the sins of all. He did this to restore us to the Father. Our Lord himself told us, “There is no greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Our Lord laid down his life for you and me. One of the most enduring and beloved images used by Our Lord to describe his relationship with us is that of the good shepherd. The good shepherd loves his sheep; they are his own. He is not a hired hand who doesn’t care. The good shepherd feeds his sheep, binds up their wounds, fights off predators and even lays down his life to protect his sheep. This image used by our Lord shows his great love for us.
Even the most hard hearted sinner cannot help but be moved by such an overture of love. “What more could I have done for you?” is a refrain from one of the chants for the Good Friday liturgy. Such love for us demands a response on our part. God has made the first move, searched us out and only asks that we make room for him to enter and abide with us. God, who has done so much for us, asks very little in return. He only asks that we open the “door of faith” in him. If we do, he will enter our lives with love, peace, forgiveness, healing and everlasting life.
When we open the “door of faith” to God, we begin to live the new life he gives us. We live as his children. Jesus tells us to imitate him for he is gentle and humble of heart. He asks us to take up our cross each day and follow him. Forgive others as he forgives us, care for the needs of those around us as he did, do the will of the father in heaven as he did. We even imitate our Lord in suffering and death that we might imitate him in resurrection to everlasting life. Our response to God’s invitation is to imitate the life of Jesus—to be like Christ.
The Most Rev. J. Douglas Deshotel is an auxiliary bishop, vicar general and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Dallas.