| By Pete Burak

Catechism Part III

Life in Christ

My son doesn’t always realize the force he can generate with his little right hand or diminutive left foot. A carefree wrestling match on the floor quickly turns into me writhing in pain as he affectionately strikes a blow with a force sufficient to bring a grown man to tears. Catholics often live like my kids, blissfully unaware of the immense power dwelling within us. Tragically, this ignorance robs us of the very life God created us for: a life of freedom, love and joy, instead of fear, bondage and despair.

By nature of our baptism, we have access to a mind-blowing power – the force that spoke creation into existence, that destroyed the power of sin and death. In paragraph 1694 of the catechism, we are reminded of this startling reality: “Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are ‘dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus’ and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord.” THE LIFE OF THE RISEN LORD IS YOURS. Allow yourself a moment to grapple with that statement. The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, the Incarnate Word, the Messiah, the Bread of Life, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present Alpha and Omega’s life is now yours. What does that even mean? St. Leo the Great spells it out for us in CCC 1691: “Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning … Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.”

Part III of the catechism focuses on the “Life in Christ,” which encapsulates both the spiritual and mystical life we receive through our adoption as sons and daughters of God, and the moral guidelines that are required to remain and flourish in our new family.

While the do’s and don’ts get all the attention, they are built on the greatest news of all time. Death comes for us all, and humanity had no hope for life after death. But  now, through Jesus, everything is different if we persevere in our faithful response. As paragraph 1696 challenges us, “The way of Christ ‘leads to life; a contrary way ‘leads to destruction.’ The Gospel parable of the two ways remains ever present in the catechesis of the Church; it shows the importance of moral decisions for our salvation: There are two ways, the one of life, the other of death; but between the two, there is a great difference.”

Don’t be like my kids. Recognize God’s power in you as it both sets you free now and prepares you for heaven. Christ’s life is ours if we want it, if we believe it and if we obey it.

Pete Burak is the director of i.d.9:16, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. He has a master’s degree in theology and is a frequent speaker on evangelization and discipleship.