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 | Bishop Thomas Daly

Encountering Christ

This year, on the first Monday of Ordinary Time, we hear the passage from the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus calls Andrew, Simon, James, and John to follow Him. St. Mark does not give us many details about the encounter these four future apostles had with Jesus, but we are told that He called each of them to follow Him. They did so, and their lives would never be the same.

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they left their nets and followed him.

What is left unsaid is: what was it about Jesus that in meeting our Lord for the first time, these men were willing to leave their livelihoods, their families and their community to follow this teacher?

None of these four disciples were ready to go out on mission. They were not burning with faith; they had not received yet the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, but they followed.

Our lives as disciples begin the same way. An encounter with Christ begins our journey. For some, there is a decisive movement when we meet the Lord, often in prayer or in the love shown to us by another. For others, a relationship with Christ was nurtured in family life from a young age, and they have been aware of the Lord in their life from before their earliest memories.

Our faith, while deep and intellectually rich, is not founded in ideas. It is founded in Christ Jesus, in the encounter with the God-man Himself and the deep love He has for us. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI described Christianity as  “not an encounter with an idea or with a project of life, but with a living person who transforms our innermost selves, revealing to us our true identity as children of God.”

Throughout this year, the Inland Catholic will take up themes that are part of discipleship. In this first issue of the year, we discuss the idea of the encounter with Christ. Many of the articles focus on how we as Christians here in Eastern Washington express the love of Christ to our neighbors. In showing the love of Christ and being Christ to others, we have an opportunity to love people for who they are—children of God with infinite dignity—and the opportunity to witness the radically transformative love of Christ at work in our encounter.

If you have long practiced your Catholic faith, but feel you still do not know Christ, reflect on these words from the book of Revelation:  “Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house ...”

The Gospel accounts of those who met Jesus and the many stories of conversion in the lives of the saints reveal a clear pattern: Jesus never forces Himself into our lives. He waits patiently for us to invite Him to be with us. I suggest the first step to grow closer to Christ might be to recite this simple prayer each morning: “Lord, I give this day to you.” He will always receive our hearts when we offer them to Him, and prayer is always more about listening to God than us doing all the talking. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening,” (1 Samuel 3) might be another brief prayer to consider speaking throughout the day as we seek to grow ever closer to Jesus Christ.

“If you listen, God will also speak to you, for with the good Lord, you have to both speak and listen. God always speaks to you when you approach Him plainly and simply.” - St. Catherine Laboure

Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they left their nets and followed Him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then He called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed Him. Mark 1:14-20