Monday, November 25, 2013

Encountering Jesus Daily

Now that the Year of Faith has come to a close, it's fitting to return to one of the fundamental issues it addressed regarding the new evangelization--that is, fostering a living relationship with Jesus.

While Catholics rightly focus on listening to the Word of God in Scriptures and receiving Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, we often forget to emphasize the importance of our personal prayer life as a place of encounter with the Risen Lord.  Indeed, if you're like me, you might even find yourself muttering the early plea of the disciples, "Lord, teach us how to pray"!

The following letter from Mother Teresa to her Missionaries of Charity--written on March 25, 1993--sheds much light on the living relationship which Jesus longs to have with each of us.  It speaks to the kind of simple, yet really real, prayer life that the Lord wants from each of us.  When I saw this, it felt like Mother Teresa was writing it just for me; maybe it will strike you the same way:
Jesus wants me to tell you much love He has for each one of you--
beyond all you can imagine. 
I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus--
one to one--you and Jesus alone. 
We may spend time in chapel--
but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love? 
Do you really know the living Jesus--
not from books but from being with Him in your heart? 
Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you? 
Ask for the grace, He is longing to give it. 
Until you can hear Jesus in the silence of your own heart,
you will not be able to hear Him saying "I thirst" in the hearts of the poor. 
Never give up this daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person--
not just the idea. 
How can we last even one day without hearing Jesus say 'I love you'--impossible. 
Our soul needs that as much as the body needs to breathe the air. 
If not, prayer is dead--meditation only thinking. 
Jesus wants you each to hear Him--speaking in the silence of your heart.

Be careful of all that can block that personal contact with the living Jesus. 
The Devil may try to use the hurts of life, and sometimes our own mistakes--
to make you feel it is impossible that Jesus really loves you, is really cleaving to you. 
This is a danger for all of us. 
And so sad, because it is completely opposite of what Jesus is really wanting,
waiting to tell you. 
Not only that He loves you, but even more--He longs for you. 
He misses you when you don't come close. 
He thirsts for you. 
He loves you always, even when you don't feel worthy. 
When not accepted by others, even by yourself sometimes--
He is the one who always accepts you. 
My children, you don't have to be different for Jesus to love you. 
Only believe--you are precious to Him. 
Bring all you are suffering to His feet--
only open your heart to be loved by Him as you are. 
He will do the rest."

 Cited in Fr. Michael Gaitley, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, pp. 417-18.
May we all carry forward the work of the new evangelization based on a living encounter with the One who long for us!