In the movie Paul: Apostle of Christ, there is a brief interlude in which one of the younger Christians questions the judgment of the other Christians, saying, “Who among you here has walked with Christ?” St. Luke responds, “None of us has walked with Christ, but Paul has followed Him the longest,” indicating that St. Paul’s understanding of how to follow Christ should and does carry weight.
When I watched this scene in the movie, the first thought that stirred in me in response to the young Christian’s question was, “I have. I have walked with Christ.” Of course, I did not walk with Christ in first-century Palestine, as he was indicating. Nor, in fact, have I even “walked” with Him as some of the saints have done. St. Catherine of Siena, for example, walked with Christ as she prayed the Divine Office, bowing to Him at each Glory Be, praying, “Glory be to the Father and to You and to the Holy Spirit.”
However, in a very real sense, we today do walk with Him. We have known Him, in the fullest biblical sense of the word, which implies a deep and intimate — typically spousal — relationship. St. John declared, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life” (1 John 1:1). While we have not walked with Him physically as the early Christians did, we, too, have encountered Him in this real and personal way.
We have the opportunity to meet Him, to walk with Him, to deepen this relationship every day. The primary place for this encounter is the Mass. Here, He comes as the Word to strengthen, to console, to convict, and to redeem us. And it is here that we meet Him most intimately, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, in which He becomes our very food. There is no deeper relationship on earth than this one, made possible by the sublime love of our God.
The very first Christians had Mass as well. In fact, there is really nothing that they had after Christ’s Ascension that we do not have today. The same means of grace, the same potential for holiness are ours as were theirs. Even if we have not physically walked with Christ as they did, we have known Him just the same. And it is this knowledge and this love that we desire to share with all the world. There is no greater joy than knowing and following Him, than being able to say, “Yes, I have walked with Him. Yes, I have known Him, and you can come to know Him, too.”
Sr. Mary Martha Becnel is a member of the Ann Arbor-based Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.