Monday, July 7, 2014

A Renewed Personal Encounter

"I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment,
to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ,
or at least an openness to letting him encounter them;
I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. 
No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her..."
(Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel [=EG], n. 3). 

What if you had a chance to hear the basic proclamation of the Gospel anew, as if for the first time?  Wouldn't it be wonderful to really hear not just that there is a God, but that he is both higher than the highest height and closer than our inmost self?

Wouldn't it be transformative and life-changing to hear that this one true God is a Father?  Your Father, and my Father.  Wouldn't it change our lives to know that the Father loves us intimately and personally--in and through the seemingly mundane details of our daily lives.

What if we could embrace the truth that this loving Father knows that our world is a mess and understands that each of us is wounded or hurting in some way?  So passionate and so compassionate is this Father that he is literally willing to give away his only-begotten Son.  For you, and for me.  Wouldn't it fill you with wonder and awe to learn that this heavenly Father purposefully sent his beloved Son to empty himself, so that the world might again be full of love?  He wants each of us to know that we are never alone and that the Son saves us--through his passion, death and Resurrection.

What if we could open our hearts to this beautiful revelation of the Triune God, as he pours out his Spirit upon us right now?  The salvation and wholeness offered by the God-Man is extended to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Wouldn't it bring us true peace and authentic hope if we really knew that the Son of God wants each of us to have so much more life?  Indeed, he knows we cannot be who we want to be on our own, so he reassures us that the Holy Spirit transforms us.  The Lord knows that we cannot find the fulfillment of our heart's deepest desires on our own; so, thanks to the work of the Spirit, he liberates us from self-centered slavery, for other-centered freedom.

Thanks to the grace of God and to an amazing team from Evangelize All Ministries, I was recently privileged to have just such a renewed encounter with the Lord, who continues to speak this Good News through his Church.  In a day-long retreat entitled "God is", a team of intentional disciples led participants through the basic Christian journey toward deeper communion with God.  This most unique day is specifically designed for parishes that want to continue evangelizing the faithful.  It is a wonderful way to invite busy 21st Century adults to step back and hear the living Word of God--and to open their hearts to Christ in the Sacraments. 

So, wherever your path might lead you this day, continue looking for ways to take the Good News to heart.  As Holy Father Francis notes, "The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step toward Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms" (EG, n. 3). 

God IS already among us, patiently awaiting our next step.  Jesus longs for us to have a renewed personal encounter with him, at this very moment--or at least an openness to letting him encounter us!  Isn't it time we ask the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and lives once again, as if for the first time?