The closer you get to Jesus, the more meaningful your life becomes. Do you often think about how you wish things could be different? With Jesus, they will be. Have you noticed that the closer you get to Christ, strange, new, and unexpected things start happening?
By Deacon Frederick Bartels
15 February 2019
I was thinking today about how we often wish things could be different. You know what I mean. We wish the culture could be different. More infused with the gospel message. Lighter. Brighter. More beautiful and good. More faithful to what and WHO really matters.
The fact is, there’s a lot of darkness out there. What’s the solution?
It’s not “what” but Who. The solution is Jesus. The solution is his light. His truth. His deeds and words. His will.
Christ is a life-changer. No doubt about that. It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? Joining to Jesus. Participating in his life. Drinking in the sacraments. Falling in love with his gospel. Thirsting for the truth transmitted by the Church. The more deeply you immerse yourself in the saving gospel and the belief of the Church, the more you want others to discover what you have. The more you want others to discover Jesus.
Why is that? It’s because you want others to share in the same faith, hope and love, right? It’s because you want others to participate in the same gift and to reach the same blessed and glorious end in God.
Of course, there’s a caveat to be laid out here: following Jesus isn’t all candy and roses. It’s often bitter and thorn filled. There is sacrifice involved. Jesus said in the gospels that if we are to follow him, we must take up our cross. And that’s the paradox. Self-entrustment to Christ means dying to self and experiencing persecution and various difficulties. But these things are temporary and thus will pass. More importantly, discipleship and the life of an intimate and personal communion with Jesus is worth any suffering. The joy and adventure Christ bestows through his Spirit and the promises of Beatitude in the next life, far outweighs any “bad times” we might experience here below.
I was baptized Catholic as an infant—praise Jesus! But as I recall my faith journey, I didn’t always care so much about evangelizing, about communicating to others the truth, beauty and goodness of Jesus and the Spirit-guided Church he founded on St. Peter.
It seems it’s an all too common situation. It’s easy for our spiritual life to wane or become stunted by the power of the often militantly secular world in which we live. It’s easy to lose sight of the most important goal and fail to continue to strive to answer the most important questions.
But as our faith grows, so too does the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. Then, things happen.
I’m reminded of the prophet Jeremiah:
But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
The really cool thing is, the more intimately you become united to Jesus, sharing in a deep, personal relationship with him, the more you feel emboldened to share the faith with others. As I said, life takes on a whole, new and wondrous meaning.
And, the more you do this, the more Christ strenghens you and draws you into his life. It was St. Teresa of Avila who said, the more you give yourself to Christ, the more he gives himself to you. Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6) who came to give life in abundance (Jn 10:10). Sharing that message with others is what it’s all about.
There are many ways of doing that. It’s important to use your voice and set an example through the way you live your life.
And it’s also important to communicate that same message visually. Tell others what you’re about. Yes. But show them too.
In doing these things, the world really can become a different place. That wish we have resonating from the depths of our heart can become true—at least to some extent. Although the world won’t be fulfilled until Jesus returns, we can make a difference now. Things really can change for the better if we work together.
Be Catholic. Be bold. Make a statement.
I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave your comments below.
Deacon Frederick Bartels is a member of the Catholic clergy who serves the Church in the diocese of Pueblo. He holds an MA in Theology and Educational Ministry and is a Catholic educator, public speaker, and evangelist who strives to infuse culture with the saving principles of the gospel.