A few years ago, I had a student who, while not Catholic, was taking a theology class. She expressed to the class a desire to become Catholic, once her parents permitted her to do so. Her peers, as a whole, were shocked.
“Why would you ever choose to become Catholic?!” they asked in disbelief.
These students were thinking of the rules of the Church, I am certain. They were mulling over how we need to make sacrifices (particularly at Lent), how we have to go to Mass on Sunday, how we have to confess our sins to a priest, and the list goes on.
They were thinking of rules; I think she was thinking of life.
If we haven’t encountered Christ or if we have forgotten the encounter(s), we are quick to view life as a series of following God’s commands. It is simply something we ought to do because it is asked of us. Yet the commands the Lord gives are meant to give life. They aren’t hoops to jump through but are instead a path to an abundant, rich life.
Just the other day, a man in prison was talking about how his perception of a family member has completely changed. Before, this man considered the relative a “Jesus freak” and found it hard to swallow when seeing the person post Scripture passages or encourage him to go to church. Now? I’m not quite certain what happened in between, but the man ended up in prison and that changed his perspective by giving him time to really see how his life was going. He said now this relative is the only one he wants to spend time with when he gets out of prison. Instead of annoying, he sees this person’s life as something he wants for himself. This person’s joy, relationships, and success–all of it showed him that life in the Lord can change you. What is more: he desired the change that he witnessed in another.
Continue reading “A Life in Christ is a New Life”
Last night there was a moment in spiritual direction when the priest was talking to me about seeing Jesus in my students. I was nodding my head, having heard this before and thinking I already knew it but still glad to hear it again.
Then I realized. I haven’t been looking for Jesus in my students. I teach them about Jesus, Sacred Scripture, and the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church and I forgot to look for Jesus in them. I mean, to seriously look for Jesus in them.
I briefly imagined what that would look like. To look at a classroom full of students and see 25 varying pictures of Christ looking at me. To teach to Jesus residing within each one of their souls and to know that, despite exterior appearances, despite however little response I may receive, that Jesus is resting within them. To know that Jesus, within them, is receiving my words. To know that not every person is against me because Christ, dwelling in them, is very much for me. I imagined being able to look at a student who was annoyed with me, making a scene in my class, or being extremely critical and having the grace to calmly ask myself where Jesus was in that student.
That changes everything. It doesn’t make all of the problems or troubles go away. It doesn’t make all of students like me. But I can know that there is someone, very present in the room, who is rooting for me, who is willing me to remain faithful, who is sympathizing with me. He is not just with me, He is with them, too. Mother Teresa found Christ in the poorest of the poor. The streets of Calcutta might not be my streets to go out on but I have a different kind of mission field. And like the streets in India, it is brimming with the many faces of Christ. If I but have the eyes to see and the heart to love.
Bl. Mother Teresa, pray for us.
Bl. Pope John Paul II, pray for us.