Q: How did God come to be?
A: While a similar metaphysical question was asked some time ago in “Ask the Bishop,” let’s take a different approach to the very foundation of human and Christian life: the Eternal God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraphs 282-285, acknowledges the intellectual curiosity of the origins of the world and how the universe came to be. As we ascertain the inner workings of the universe, such as through the laws of physics (as we understand them), more questions seem to emerge. In our common curiosity at the beginnings of creation, the understanding of an Eternal God transcends the discipline of the external sciences.
God is. Whether or not we employ external scientific data or the Creation Narrative from the Book of Genesis, we account that God existed before time itself. The catechism explains that, “The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason” (Paragraph 286). Remember, “the created” is trying to understand the Creator. Not an easy task, but one that requires both faith and reason.
I bring up faith because we know God did not simply create the universe and walk away. That’s called deism, and it misses the point of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection: the New Creation. Only the One who existed before time could recreate the world in the divine gift of his Son. God is constantly with us and has willed the universe into existence, and recreated it in his Son, for our benefit and for us in return to love God and to give him glory in our lives. God has no beginning, but out of his divine love, we do.
Q: Why did all the people in Jerusalem say, “Crucify him,” when the day before they were worshiping and praying with him?
A: This question takes us to the common Gospel passage of the Passion Narrative we hear both at Passion Sunday and Good Friday. In fact, we begin the Passion Sunday liturgy recalling Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem with our proclamation: “Hosanna in the Highest!” The question remains: What transpired between Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem and his presentation by Pontius Pilate before the crowd?
The Gospel writers, the evangelists, indicate how many religious leaders of Jesus’ day were frightened by his works, were angry by his truthful and confrontational words, and saw Jesus as a threat to their very authority. The religious leaders plotted against Jesus, even to the point of attempting to arrest him even before his arrival to Jerusalem. In other words, the plan to attack Jesus, to the point of his suffering and death, was already a reality.
We are familiar in our day how crowds can be incited to the point of words of hate and actions of violence. This is not unique to our era, for we witness it firsthand in the trial and condemnation of Jesus. The injustice done toward Jesus finds its source in sin itself, the tragic rejection of God’s enduring love. The story of Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem to the Passion Narrative, of his rejection, suffering and death, demonstrates to you and to me that we must avoid being fickle about our faith, for throughout our lives God is always present and faithful.
Q: Why do we use holy water when we enter (church for) Mass?
A: This is another question similar to a previous one presented in “Ask the Bishop.” The fundamental definition of holy water is: “Blessed water, a sacramental whose sprinkling of use is a reminder of Baptism and the means of sanctification” (catechism, Glossary). A sacramental is a sacred sign which disposes us to be open to receiving the sacraments, and they render various occasions in life holy (catechism, Paragraph 1667).
The sprinkling of holy water or, as you indicated, the use of holy water when making the sign of the cross, recalls our Baptism. The use of holy water disposes us and prepares us to receive God’s gift of grace and thereby cooperating with it. Holy water blesses people, items and even events, orienting our lives toward the kingdom of God and our common role as God’s ambassadors.
Keeping with the theme of our second question, the very source of each sacramental is the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. To this end, holy water directs us to our own sanctification and to praise God, the source of all that is good.
Together we pray for a successful academic year, as both teacher and student pursue the noble task of faith seeking understanding. God bless you and your family.