The first time I met my wife, there were all sorts of wonderful things about her that I liked. However, I remember one thing that I thought wasn't so wonderful . . . she was a Catholic. Now at the time it wasn't a big deal. I mean, she was really cute . . . so who cares that she's Catholic?
Once we started to become closer friends and eventually to date, it became a much bigger deal. I had never met a real, live Catholic before, and she challenged me to rethink many of my views.
Needless to say, I eventually joined the Catholic Church and will always be grateful for the role that she played in my conversion. Looking back, I can see three major Bible verses that changed my perspective and were absolutely crucial in bringing me home to the Catholic Church:
1. This Rock
'And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church . . . ' (Matthew 16:18)
I had grown up a Presbyterian Christian who believed that as long as you were a Christian who believed in Jesus, you belonged to the 'church.' It didn't matter which church you belonged to or where you went to worship on Sundays, it just mattered if you believed in Jesus. If you believed in Jesus, you were doing just fine.
You see, the problem with thinking that way, is that to believe in Jesus means that you also believe everything that He said and taught. One of those things that Jesus said and taught, however, was that He was going to found a particular Church, and only one of them. He didn't say that He was going to establish churches, but one Church. Only one. When I realized this, I knew that I wanted to be a part of that one Church that Christ founded; the problem was, 'which Church is the right one?'
2. Faith and Works
'You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone' (James 2:24).
Once I realized that Jesus intended to found only one Church, I needed to find which Church that was. One of the key beliefs of Protestant Christianity is salvation by sola fide … 'by faith alone.' It didn't matter what you did, all you had to do was believe in Jesus and you were going to heaven. This had always seemed a little off to me, but I had never spent a lot of time thinking about it until I read this verse in James.
Now, James isn't saying that we get to go to heaven by doing good things without faith, but what he's saying is that we can't just say we believe something, we have to act on it. We have to let our lives reflect the inner transformation that happens when we give our lives to Jesus.
You can see where this is going. I realized (to my horror) that the Bible was starting to sound awfully Catholic . . .
3. The Eucharist
'So Jesus said to them, ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏVery truly, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life . . . ' (John 6:53-54)
Once I read the famous speech that Jesus makes in John 6, I knew that I had to be a Catholic. I had already admitted that Jesus only founded one Church, and I had already realized that the Catholic belief that our lives should be totally transformed by faith in Jesus. Realizing the truth of Christ's real presence in the Eucharist was the final step. I thought to myself, 'I have to be a Catholic!'
For a second, it was horrifying. Everything I had believed before was just not enough. The next second though, I was absolutely overjoyed. I realized the tremendous blessing it was to know the truth about what Jesus had come to share with us.
I don't ever regret growing up a Protestant Christian; my parents did an amazing job of teaching me about the Bible and Jesus, and instilling a love for the Lord in my heart. I can only be even more overjoyed now, however, that Jesus gave me the gift of realizing that the Catholic Church was where He intended me to be.
We can do our friends and families a huge favor by sharing the good news of the truth of the Gospel with them. Jesus Christ founded a Church, and it's the Catholic Church.
That is, indeed, very good news.