Jesus Comes To Meet Us

In Pope Francis’ letter announcing the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, the Pontiff evoked the encounter of the first disciples with our Lord. “I would also remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked Him: ‘Teacher ... where are you staying?’ He replied, ‘Come and see’ (Jn 1:38) Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with Him,” Pope Francis wrote. “Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness.” It will be possible to respond to it, the Pope concludes, “to the extent that, through the accompaniment of expert guides,” each one learns how “to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God’s plan in your life.”

Meeting Christ is the decisive experience for any Christian. As Benedict XVI said forcefully in Deus caritas est: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a Person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (no. 1). It is very revealing that Pope Francis has also wanted to remind us of this right from the beginning of his pontificate: “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” (Evangelii gaudium, no. 3).

In a letter that Pope Francis addressed to university students taking part in the 50th edition of the UNIV congress, he invited them to follow our Lord “with joy,” and “to love God and neighbor with an unconditional love.” And he continued: “This advice from Saint Josemaria will be of great help to you: ‘May you seek Christ. May you find Christ. May you love Christ’ (The Way, 382). Strive to strengthen each day your friendship with Christ, asking yourselves frequently: ‘What would Jesus do in my place? What can I do to become more and more like Him and bring Him to others?’ Seek Him in prayer,” the Pope continued, “in the sacraments, in all the circumstances of your life and also in the people around you: in your friends, family members, fellow students, and in the most needy and forgotten of the world, in whom Christ’s face is reflected in an especially clear way. I invite you to get out of yourselves, overcoming comfort-seeking and the selfishness of thinking only about your own concerns, in order to set out on the path of encountering those in need, and serving them with your talents. This is the best way of following Christ and keeping your heart always enkindled with love for Him.”

Our Lord is moved by young and generous hearts. Saint Josemaría all his life remembered his personal and unexpected encounter with Jesus. He was a teenager, with his heart overflowing with dreams and ideals. After a night of heavy snow that covered the streets of his hometown with a thick white blanket, he left home early in the morning. He was surprised to find a trail in the snow left by the feet of a discalced friar. He followed the tracks and saw a friar who was returning to his friary. This chance encounter left a deep impression on his heart. “If others can make so many sacrifices for God and neighbor,” he told himself, “can’t I offer Him something?”

Romana, n. 66, January-June 2018, p. 9-10.

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