Friend of the show, professor, and author, Dr. Edward Sri discusses his new book, “Into His Likeness: Be Transformed as a Disciple of Christ,” that explains how modern-day people can still be disciples.
Father Dave points out that Dr. Sri is a professor at the Augustine Institute and asks what he finds to be the thing that people struggle with the most in terms of the Church.
“Two things: One is the topic of moral relativism,” Dr. Sri says. “People wonder why the Catholic Church has to teach morality about anything because everyone should just be able to do what they want and make up their own morality. That’s just the air they’re breathing on college campuses. But I would even take this a step further and look at something that’s in my new book: the idea of encountering a love that we don’t have to earn. I spoke with many campus ministers, lay people, priests, religious, and I asked what their experience is with young people today. And so many people said the idea of God’s love is something that turns their world upside down. I grew up in the 80s and 90s when you would always hear, ‘God loves you,’ but I think the point for this generation is that they grew up thinking love has to be earned.
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“How well I do in school, what I have on my resume, how well I do on the field,” Dr. Sri continues. “They get into their young adult years, and they’re working, and it’s all about pleasing their boss, and they think that this is where they’re going to find their identity. When they open up and become a little vulnerable with their faith, and admit certain weaknesses or hurt from their pasts to a priest or someone, then they experience something different. I tell a story about one chaplain on a college campus who sees this over and over again. When he comes back to those people he says, ‘Hey, remember when you first told me about that struggle you had? What did you think about the way I responded?’ And most people say, ‘I couldn’t believe it. I was blown away, Father. You didn’t judge me or reject me. You were still my friend. I’ve never experienced anything like that.’ And then the priest tells them, ‘If that’s how I look at you with all my humanness and fallibility, imagine how beautiful you are in the eyes of God, no matter what you struggle with.’ And these young people come to this realization that they’ve never experienced before, which is that love isn’t something you can earn. It has to be received.”
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Father Dave points out that the book emphasizes that if we want to be modern-day disciples, we have to look to the original disciples. “One of the things you emphasize there is that they were chosen. They didn’t pick him, he chose them.”
“Jesus took the initiative,” Dr. Sri explains. “They were chosen not because they were smart, or holier, or had more money. In fact, if you look at them they are not models of perfection. This is a bunch of knuckleheads. They’re constantly getting it wrong, and they’re doubting Jesus, and making mistakes. And that’s encouraging to us. If Jesus could work with a guy like Peter, who is constantly all over the place, ‘Lord, I’ll die with you! I’ll go to prison with you!’ and then a few hours later he’s denying him three times. If God could work with a man like Peter, and change him and make him a great apostle and courageous saint, he can work with us. He’s choosing us not because of our vulnerabilities. He’s choosing us because he loves us.”
Father Dave asks what Dr. Sri recommends for people who want to draw closer to their faith. “I highlight what I call four habits of a disciple,” Dr. Sri says. “This is from the Bible. I think it’s best if we can ground it in God’s word. The New Testament lists the four things the earliest disciples devoted themselves to. And these four things are so important that the Catholic Church throughout the centuries always turned to these four points when they wanted to sum up the Catholic faith. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is based on these four pillars. What are they? Prayer, fellowship, the Sacraments, the teachings of Christ.”
Father Dave asks how busy, modern Catholics can live as disciples, “I think the fact that they are listening right now is wonderful thing,” Dr. Sri says. “They could be listening to a million other things right now. It means that there is a desire in them to encounter God and live their faith … keep those four practices in mind. But if we want to grow in our faith life we have to pray. Maybe it’s during a lunch break or waking up a few minutes early. Finding that time is important.” (Original Air 4-10-18)