Christ Among Us: A Modern Presentation of the Catholic Faith for Adults, Sixth Edition

Christ Among Us: A Modern Presentation of the Catholic Faith for Adults, Sixth Edition

by Anthony Wilhelm


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060693497
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/03/1996
Edition description: REVISED
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 543,466
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.23(d)

About the Author

Anthony Wilhelm, a religious educator, has taught theology and directed religious educator programs for adults across America.

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Chapter One

Our Life and God

What is life all about? Is there a God? If there is a God, does he care about us? Can I make contact with God? To answer these questions, we begin with something all people seek...

Something To Live For

If there is one thing that people seek from life, it is fulfillment. We need a purpose, something to live for, a goal that will truly fulfill us and bring us happiness.

Many live for a successful marriage and a good home; some want a pleasant job with financial security; some seek power, or a life of pleasure and leisure, or friends and social position.

Many today, including many younger people, find their purpose in the service of others. In this age of great social change and consequent confusion these highly motivated individuals have brought about great good in our world.

Yet we must acknowledge that none of these things can completely satisfy our aspirations. No matter what we have, there is always something else we want. We also realize that these things cannot give us lasting and secure happiness, nor a lasting sense of accomplishment, for human weakness, tragedy, or death can destroy what we have. "Human beings are like a breath; their days like a passing shadow" (Psalm 144, 4).

The conviction of the Christian believer is that two thousand years ago Jesus Christ revealed to us an ultimate purpose to our life: to live forever with God after death. We know that our greatest happiness in this life comes from love. From childhood everyone has an insatiabledesire to love and be loved. Our happiness in human love, Christ tells us, is but a dim reflection of the immense, unending joy of loving God and being loved by him forever.

Jesus told us that this unending life of happiness after death is such that we could not even begin to dream of it. It is as if someone lived in a closed room, never seeing or hearing anything outside. Then one day someone opened the door to the outside to display the world with its marvels. Christ did this for us, but he revealed that our destiny is infinitely more wonderful — so staggering that we can grasp it only bit by bit.

Jesus told us that we begin our life of love and happiness with God while still here on earth. But this happiness is different from what many people think. It does not come from satisfying our desire for pleasure or material things or social achievement. It comes from truly loving and often involves suffering and sacrifice. It is realistic. It brings not freedom from pain but a deep peace and sense of fulfillment even in the midst of pain.

Jesus showed us how to get along with others and how to bear sufferings and frustration. He told us and showed us what we can do about our loneliness and fears, our guilt and uneasiness, and how to have true peace and security.

Jesus revealed that God has a plan by which we are to share in his love and happiness, in other words, that there is a meaning to human history. He told us not only that we have a place in God's plan but that (as is becoming more apparent today) the working out of this plan depends on us, on our free cooperation with God as coauthors of history. Jesus' great follower, St. Paul, put it this way:

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make all humanity see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the Church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known.. . . This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3, 8-11).

The unique claim that Jesus made for his teaching was that he has a special knowledge of God and his plan for us, and that he alone can lead us to God. He said that he was sent by God, and is, in fact, God's only Son: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14,5).
Therefore the story of Jesus' teaching and God's plan begins with God himself...

How People Come To Know God

People come to a realization of God in countless ways. These are some of them:

Some have grown from childhood with a knowledge of God, are accustomed to pray and to make God a part of their thoughts and decisions.

Some reflect on the course of their life and have an unshakable conviction of God's providence over them. Particularly in times of crisis, they realize, someone was there who heard and understood.

Some find God's presence in nature. In hills and mountains, a peaceful lake, an expanse of sky, there comes the conviction of someone. A few might come closest while caught up in a moving piece of music, in the contemplation of an art masterpiece, or something similar.

Some are convinced that they have personally experienced God — a deeply moving, joyous, and unifying experience, giving great peace, clarity, and certainty, profoundly affecting their lives yet unexplainable to others. Many who testify to this — and it is usually with reluctance that they do so — are otherwise balanced and credible people.

For others, experiencing God is not as intense. It may be an experience of our human limitations or "boundaries," a sense of wonder that we exist at all, and a hint of an otherness that lies beyond. It may be a glorious sunset, the sweep of stars in a clear nighttime sky, a look from a loved one or a touch of an understanding hand, a child's laughter, an unexpected joy — all these tell of another that sustains, gives hope, and is always there.

Christ Among Us copyright © by Anthony Wilhelm. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All Rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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