It was the last month of my final year of seminary. The scene was the imposing office of my formation director, who sat across from me. Next to her was the vocations director for the Archdiocese. They both glared at me, waiting for a response. After almost five years of classes, prayer, field education, annual evaluations, and much ink spilled reflecting on my own personal and spiritual development, this was the final test. My future as a priest came down to one question.
As he closed the cover of my thick file at the end of our meeting, the vocations director had turned a pointed look in my direction and asked rather casually, “By the way, Roger, who is Jesus Christ?” I swallowed hard, stalling for time while searching my memory banks for the textbook answer. Realizing there was none, I stammered out a line I had remembered from a childhood friend. “He’s my Lord and Savior,” I finally exclaimed.
Though I struggled for an answer, it is the most fundamental question. In fact, Jesus once asked his disciples the same thing: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). Only Simon Peter got it right. Indeed, few of us could respond well because, to know who Jesus really is, we first have to have a relationship with him.
According to one study, there are about 100 million Catholics in the U.S. Of these, thirty million attend church occasionally, ten million attend on most Sundays, but only five million are active in their parishes. More surprising is that only about twenty percent of these could be called “intentional disciples.” As a result, roughly one percent of self-identified American Catholics have a real and meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ.
Today, we begin a new six-week message series leading up to Advent called, CSI: Christ Scene Investigation. It’s based on the New York Times Best Seller, The Case for Christ. In the book, award-winning legal editor and seasoned reporter, Lee Strobel, chases down the most important story of his life to answer one question: “Is there credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God?”
Over the next six weeks, we’ll pore over the details and study the proofs together. Join us on a riveting quest for the truth about history’s most compelling figure, as we retrace his steps in history, search for clues among archaeological ruins, and examine critical testimony in the ancient manuscripts of his time. At the end of the series, our hope is that the trail of evidence will lead you even closer to the Man of Sorrows, the Prince of Peace, the Lord and Savior of the world.
Was he a fool, an imposter, or truly the Son of God? What judgment will you render in “The Case for Christ?”
—Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
Father Roger Gustafson