SATURDAY HOMILY: Is Jesus your personal Lord and Savior?
LONG BEACH, CA (Catholic Online) - Upon meeting Jesus, Philip excitedly announced to Nathanial, "We have found Him!" Nathanial was skeptical. While he longed for the Messiah as much or even more than many pious Jews of his day, he hesitated.
Nathanial knew the Scriptures. The Messiah will come from Bethlehem, not Nazareth. Hence, his sardonic reply to Philip: "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" He would soon gladly eat those words.
Nathanial did not have the full picture. What he knew was correct enough. But his information was incomplete. The amazing thing is that the gaps in his knowledge would be closed in an explosion of grace ignited by a personal encounter with Jesus Himself.
This is why Philip's simple response to Nathanial's doubt was so ingenious: "Come and see." Nathanial did. And in that face to face encounter with the Lord his doubts evaporated. He came to faith.
Knowing that Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem is helpful and necessary. But knowing that Jesus, personally, is indispensable.
Pope Benedict XVI puts it this way:
"Our knowledge of Jesus needs above all a first-hand experience: someone else's testimony is of course important, for normally the whole of our Christian life begins with the proclamation handed down to us by one or more witnesses. However, we ourselves must then be personally involved in a close and deep relationship with Jesus ." (General Audience, October 4, 2006).
Bingo! There it is! The Pope has said it (and actually this is a constant theme in the preaching and teaching of this pope and of his predecessor). We must have a personal relationship with Jesus! We must allow ourselves to become intimate friends of the Lord.
The other day while I was standing in front of my parish church in my cassock I was asked by a sincere, Bible toting Evangelical Christian who happened to be passing by: "Sir, do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?"
I wasn't offended by the question. I understand. I'm a big target. I just smiled at the man reassuringly and said, without hesitation, "Yes!" I don't think he was convinced but that's not the point.
Evangelical Christians did not invent this language. It is and has always been the language of the Saints beginning with Jesus' first followers, the apostles. It is lamentable that for many Catholics this talk of a "personal relationship with Christ" sounds foreign and strangely "Protestant." But it should not. It is Catholic through and through.
In today's Gospel Nathanial becomes, to borrow from the words of the Holy Father, "personally involved in a close and deep relationship with Jesus." During those three exhilarating years that he spent living with Jesus and learning from Him, Nathanial, who appears as Bartholomew in the Biblical lists of apostles, obviously grew in his friendship with the Lord.
And after the Lord's Ascension into heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit, Bartholomew's intimacy with the Crucified and Risen Christ undoubtedly deepened as he ardently offered the Eucharistic Sacrifice and reverently partook of Jesus' Sacred Body and Blood. Let us not forget how thoroughly and repeatedly he must have meditated on the many enthralling and unforgettable episodes of Jesus' life of which he was himself an eye witness.
It was this intimate bond of friendship with the Lord that motivated and sustained St. Bartholomew throughout his life as an apostle and kept him faithful to the end. He died a martyr's death and his relics are venerated in Rome, in the Church of St. Bartholomew-on-the-Tiber.
This Year of Faith offers us the invitation to discover anew the personal dimension of faith in Christ.
This is not to minimize in the least the urgency of learning well the content of the faith. In spite of the millions of dollars that are spent each year on catechetical materials and religious education congresses, ignorance of the most fundamental doctrines of the faith has spread like a plague.
There is a crying need for a great catechesis!
This is why Pope Benedict is urging Catholics to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church which for twenty years has served as a reliable and accessible summary of the wealth of Catholic teaching. But even as he promotes the Catechism, the Holy Father states: "On page after page, we find that what is presented here is no theory, but an encounter with a Person who lives within the Church" (Porta Fidei, 11).
Are you still looking for a New Year's resolution to make? Here's a good one: resolve to deepen your friendship with Jesus.
How is this done? It's not complicated.
Make room for Him in your busy life. Put Him in your daily planner or smart phone. And don't stand him up. Arrive punctually to your times of prayer. Spend time with Him near the Tabernacle. If possible, go to Mass daily and receive Him in Holy Communion with a clean soul. Be persevering. And then watch what the Lord will do. "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
Fr. G. Peter Irving III is a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Pastor of Holy Innocents Church in Long Beach, California.
Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for JUNE 2017
National Leaders. That national leaders may firmly commit themselves to ending the arms trade, which victimizes so many innocent people.
The heart is the center of a person, the place from which he/she makes the choices which will affect the world within them and around them. ... continue reading
The consideration of Jesus' baptism, gives us an opportunity to remember our own baptism. If you do not know the date of your own ... continue reading
I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. HYTHE, ... continue reading
The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables ... continue reading
It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- Daily Readings for Sunday, June 25, 2017
- The end of the farm as we know it has arrived - here's how we're ...
- 'Half-Man-Half-Beast sent by the Devil' sparks fear in South African ...
- How a Catholic should deal with Tinder and other dating apps
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 HD Video
- St. William of Vercelli: Saint of the Day for Sunday, June 25, 2017
- Daily Reading for Monday, June 26th, 2017 HD Video
- st john the baptist
- daily readings
- saint george
- saint james
- Saint Patrick
- st. francis
- st. jude
- st. peter
- mother theresa
- st james
- st joan of arc
- advent prayers
- St Joseph
- ten commandments
- Pope Francis
- saint agnes
- St Anthony
- 10 commandments
- mary magdalene
- Patron saints
- Daily Reading for Sunday, June 25th, 2017 HD
- Pope Francis prepares an incredible gift of love and solidarity for South Sudan HD
- St. Emma HD
- Daily Reading for Saturday, June 24th, 2017 HD