“Wow, that’s a really big question,” you might say, “one that can’t be answered in a sentence or two.”
Spanning history from its foundation by Christ on the “rock” of Peter to the present moment, the Catholic Church has endured for nearly 2000 years. Today more than a billion Catholics embrace a shared faith and celebrate Mass in every country of the world.
That’s a lot to cover. We will do our best here to help you sort it out, looking both wide-angle at the big picture and close-up at specific Catholic topics.
Our starting point must be Jesus Christ, who came among us to live, to teach and to act as no man has ever done, finally dying and rising in the greatest story ever told.
Who is Jesus Christ?
We can’t begin to understand the Catholic Church until we come to grips with this question. Bishop Robert Barron, in a 5-minute video, notes that Jesus didn’t ask, “What do people think of my teaching?” but rather, “Who do people say that I am?” Unlike Buddha, or Confucius, or modern gurus, Jesus’ main focus was not wise sayings or life principles, but himself.
Nor did Jesus simply direct people to love God. He said they needed to love him – more than they loved father and mother, indeed more than they loved their own lives. And when he said to a paralyzed man, “My son, your sins are forgiven,” the scribes and Pharisees accused him of blasphemy, saying, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
That is exactly the point. Over and over again, throughout the Gospels, Jesus talked and acted like he was God.
Bishop Barron’s conclusion is that Jesus compels us to make a choice unlike any other religious founder. “If he’s not who he says he is, he’s not a good man – he’s a dangerous, misguided fanatic. If he is who he says he is, then he must be the center of our lives.”