No Cafeteria Christians Allowed

Inspired by my Protestant brothers who embrace Jesus’s Faith through devout devotion to the Bible, it points out, as well, the gap lacking in Faith that we, both Protestants and Catholics alike, share and the challenge we have to find Jesus.  In our own separate ways, the Christian world has their blinders on that prevent one from truly finding Jesus.  One may be of great Faith, but the fact is, we, me definitely included, have large blind spots.  We tend to put Jesus in this box that we define who Jesus is for us, which is not totally and really who Jesus is.  We like to insert a little of “me” into who Jesus is.
So, what is wrong by inserting a little me into who I perceive Jesus is?  Aren’t we created in His likeness?  Well, the thing is, that statement is backwards.  When I insert my identity into who Jesus is to me, I then create a new “god” that is part Jesus and part me – Johnsus – which allows me then to justify my not totally following Jesus’ teachings and biddings by injecting my bias as to what I think and accept what Jesus really wants and needs me to believe, be and do.  There is a term for this in Catholic circles – Cafeteria Catholic.  The term could also be widened to, Cafeteria Christian, to include our Protestant brothers and sisters.
So, I want to tackle the Faith question in two aspects.  First, a look from the Protestant side.  Again, the Protestant penchant to study the Bible and evangelize has put us Catholics to shame and has finally served notice to the members and caretakers of Jesus’ Church that we need to be better stewards of our own infinite gift and mandate that Jesus gave – Go make disciples of the world.  Even in their deep-seated Faith and outward displays of Faith, the Protestant Faith still remains incomplete.
Does one have the Faith to believe that Jesus really had/has the ability and capability, as God, to create and institute the Sacrament of the Eucharist?  Does one believe that God really has the ability and capability to establish Saints in Heaven and Angels that can hear and communicate our prayers to Jesus?  Does one believe that there is more than what is written in the Bible that Jesus taught and shared with His disciples that we are to emulate and do to truly be disciples of Him?
So, as a point of Faith, I need to live both in and beyond the Bible.  I need to follow Jesus’ teachings and examples held within the Bible, because those are vast and Heaven sent, but I cannot allow the Bible to contain the entire essence of my Faith.  As John stated in the last sentence of his Gospel, “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.[1]  I need to have the Faith and courage to step out of my box of Faith comfort with the Bible under one arm, but stepping out with Jesus’ Church as my driving force to lead me to Jesus and my Heavenly reward.
So, for us, me as a Catholic, I need to grasp my Faith and give it more reality in my life.  I have all these points of Faith available to me that Jesus, through His Church, has put right in front of me.  It is now up to me to grab and run with it.  I need to take on and emulate my Protestant brothers’ intensity to devour the Bible.  I need to take my Protestant brothers’ intensity, tenacity and fortitude to evangelize, to share my Faith, to share with my fellow neighbors the reason for my hope.[2]
I need, and invite all my readers, to then look at the Bible and the little, and not so little, learning adventures God puts in front of us, examine the world and God’s path to salvation with eyes wide open.  To seek Jesus and find Him, without predetermined and personal premonitions.  Utilizing not only His Bible, but also the wisdom of His Church He created in parallel, one a subset of the other, which encompass the body of teachings of both the Bible and the Apostles.  We then have the Church Fathers, Doctors of the Church, current day and past Saints Triumphant that have explored, lived and handed down, not only what was written and documented in the Bible, but all Jesus’ teachings and holy examples revealed to His disciples.  When we say, “I don’t think Jesus would have have said/done/instituted something like (fill in the blank)”, we are truly taking the Cafeteria Christian route by adding one’s own opinions to trump what Jesus really said and meant. It is easy then to walk ourselves down the dark path and away from our salvation at hand.
I need to look what Jesus intended to tell us and challenge us with, given all the tools and resources He has set before us to then learn, emulate, and take this, the Lord’s wisdom, joy, peace and love, out to the world; to love God with my whole heart and soul, mind and body, and to love my neighbor as myself. Amen. God Bless.
[1] John 21:25
[2] 1Peter 3:15

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