Encountering a Relationship
When I was younger, I had one goal, “Do just enough to call myself a Christian. Make others see you’re a Christian and you will be fine. If my peers see me as a “good person” then I am a good person.” I did not feel any importance to pray, participate in Mass, dive deeper in my own faith or certainly share my faith with others. I was only focused on what other people saw. However, while at Mass I started to notice a joy about some individuals that I wanted in my life. Their behavior was captivating.
One day one of those individuals invited me to spend intentional time with Christ in adoration. It was during that time that I had an encounter with Jesus Christ which lead to a real change in my heart. I went from being told I was loved by Christ, to feeling the love of Christ. I started saying yes to the things I used to say no to, and no to the things I would say yes too. I went from ignoring the Sacraments to being greedy with the Sacraments. I was sitting in the presence of Christ and actually felt He was there in the room with me. This encounter was the very start of my faith life.
Over the years I grew in my faith and read about those closest to Jesus, the ones He called friends, and asked myself “What made them different?” After much time in prayer, I realized that their mission in life was centered around their encounter with Jesus. That encounter changed their hearts in a way that we still acknowledge today. This is the Christian spiritual life. I have found that often times I complicate things with my faith. I have to consistently remind myself that the spiritual life is not overwhelming, full of big books and fancy words. It’s simply me responding to Christ and Christ responding to my deepest desires.
Reflecting back on my life before Jesus, I often was frustrated with Mass and couldn’t wait for it to be over. I didn’t understand what the big deal of Mass was all about, why were my family and others so committed to doing this every weekend. In my teen years my behavior at times was meeting the minimum and checking off boxes. It consisted of going to Mass and often I would arrive late or leave early. How did I ever expect to get anything out of my Mass experience? How could I expect Jesus to answer me when I wasn’t even there to hear it?
I began to understand that faith wasn’t about showing up and getting my participation trophy. I came to realize that Christ is not a genie, He is a person who wants nothing more than to be in a relationship with me. A relationship for me to encounter Him and Him to encounter me.
This weekend at Mass, the homily was about an introduction to the second stage in the Parish Life Cycle called Encounter. Ultimately, it’s an encounter with Jesus Christ that changes everything. At Sacred Heart of Jesus, we have one mission, to encounter Jesus. Yes, it is that simple. What is happening here is not new, it’s not overwhelming, doesn’t require all your time and you don’t have to put on a fancy dress or suit. It’s simply saying yes to the invitation Christ is extending in your life.
As we continue to learn about the Sacred Heart of Jesus’ Parish Life Cycle, I want to invite those of you who long for an encounter with Jesus to say yes today. To say yes to something you haven’t done before. My invitation to you over the next 3 weeks is be present, open your heart and be intentional with your time here. Christ has big plans for us and desires our hearts to join into His.
Embrace the Grace,