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Bishop Joseph Strickland’s Letter to The Baptized

Articles | March 13, 2024 | by Catholics for Catholics

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am inspired to write to all who share life in Jesus Christ through baptism. The Judeo-Christian story encompasses a story which is both human and divine, and which transcends space and time. 

At this time, humanity is in great turmoil, and many are casting about seeking answers to age-old questions. As people of faith, it is important for us to be strong in the truth that God has revealed to us, and it is important that we are firmly founded on the answers to the age-old questions that God has revealed to us through His Son who is truth incarnate.  

 I turn to this passage from Exodus 33:18-23: “Then Moses said, ‘Please let me see your glory!’ The Lord answered: ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim my name, 

Lord, before you, I who show favor to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will. But you cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.’ ‘Here,’ continued the Lord, ‘is a place near me where you shall station yourself on the rock.  When my glory passes I will set you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand, so that you may see my back, but my face may not be seen.’”

This passage reminds us that there is a deep longing planted indelibly into each of our hearts to see the Glory of God. Moses’ request to see God’s Glory expresses this longing for each of us and reminds us that humanity has been on this quest since time immemorial. Seen through this lens, one can note that longing to see God’s Glory has driven individuals and nations since the dawn of time. However, when arrogance displaces the humility that is essential to this quest, the chaos in which humanity has been too often embroiled then ensues. 

At this moment in human history, it is especially important that we recognize that the turmoil in the human family often boils down to trying to fulfill this longing by our own endeavors rather than humbly acknowledging the Lord’s instruction, “my face you cannot see, for no man sees me and still lives.” We are, therefore, driven to see the face of God by coming to know more deeply the One in whose image and likeness we exist. 

It is essential we recognize that where we come to know Jesus Christ most fully is 

in His Church. In the Catholic Church, He is truly present on the altar at every Mass.  Jesus commissioned His Apostles as leaders of His Church to go out and “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” which is, in this context of which we speak, “baptizing them into the Glory of God.” 

God, in His profound love for all humanity, has done the impossible. He has shown us His Glory in the face of Jesus Christ, His Son. God knows us more profoundly than we can ever fathom in this life. He knows our longing to see His Glory, which Moses expressed, and God, in His immense love, has satisfied this longing through His Son.

Jesus says very clearly that, “when you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” (John 14:9) Thus, the longing that Moses expresses is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. 

In this present moment, it is essential that we return to and vigorously proclaim this Good News with clarity and with the audacity of the first Apostles. Humanity has progressed in significant ways in these twenty centuries since God showed us His Glory through His Son. To the degree that this progress has fed our arrogance, it has obscured the Glory of God and supplanted it with the glory of man which ultimately falls to dust. Man will never be the source of true glory because man is not the author of his own existence. 

Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, let us return to the revelation of God’s Glory that is the Gospel, the Good News, which tells us that Jesus has shown us the Father, and has thus fed the deepest longing of all humanity which is to know God’s Glory. Let us live and share this Good News with the world!

In Christ’s Name,

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland,

Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Tyler

You can read the original version of the letter on BishopStrickland.com.



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