The first stage of the New Evangelization is for each person to have that ‘life-giving’ encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. Many of us have met Jesus, and many others long to know Him. Lent is a perfect time to renew our relationship with Jesus, and to gain greater clarity of the details of our own encounter with Him as well as a clearer understanding of how He is sending me to work in His name.
Because God is God, and can (and does) act in any manner He so chooses, this encounter with Jesus can take place anywhere at anytime. We need only make the act of faith that God does want a personal relationship with us! However, the privileged opportunities for such an encounter are the Sacraments, God’s Word, prayer, and acts of charity. (In other words, we are to seek God in our love of God and in our love of neighbor.)
When we meet Jesus, we come to know ourselves as fully loved, truly accepted, and wrapped in the mercy of God. Just as the woman at the well from last Sunday’s Gospel (John 4) came to a deeper acceptance of herself because of her encounter with Jesus, so can we expect to find the same love, mercy and acceptance in our relationship with Christ. Just as Mary sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to Him, (Luke 10:38-42) so every disciple benefits from listening to the wisdom and instruction of Jesus.
Equally important to seeing one’s self ‘fully’ through Jesus’ gaze of love is the invitation, the direction that Jesus gives every one of His disciples. The woman at the well went to tell others of Jesus, and they also came to believe in Jesus (John 4:39). The man born blind regained his sight by Jesus’ healing, and he worshipped Jesus. (John 9:38) Peter and the other apostles left their nets behind and followed Jesus. Peter even accepted the invitation of Jesus to walk on water. (Matthew 14:29)
A fully mature Christian life comes to realize that our relationship with Christ cannot simply be something solely personal or private. We certainly need to take the necessary time to personally nurture our relationship with the Lord. But, at some point, he invites all of us “Get out of the boat” and share His Good News with others.
The precepts of the Church have not changed. Going to Mass on Sunday is still a necessary component of a faithful practice. But, in many ways, our presence at Mass on Sunday is like remaining in the ‘wading pool.’ A mature faith is one that sends us into the ‘deep water.’ (Luke 5:4) We are called and sent by Jesus.
The mission of the Church is to “Go into the world and proclaim the Good News!” Matthew 28:19-20) The Church is the Body of Christ. And ‘who is the Church?’ ALL OF US. I read an interesting statistic recently that says 99% of the Body of Christ (The Church) are lay people. So, who is responsible for preaching Christ to the world??? ALL of US – the Baptized.
So, Church, I pray your Lenten Journey is going well. I pray you are renewed in your relationship with Christ. I pray you come to a clearer understanding of the invitation Jesus is giving you to follow Him, and that you also receive the grace to credibly witness to your believe in Him to all those around you.