Blaise Pascal wrote, “Jesus is the center of everything and the object of everything.” In my research for talks on evangelization, I learned that most people who trade the Catholic Church for a Pentecostal or Evangelical church claim that it is because they are looking for a personal relationship with Jesus. This is mind-boggling because Catholics have unique opportunities for encountering the living, risen Jesus.
For one thing, we celebrate the Eucharist, even every day. We believe that under the forms of bread and wine Jesus really comes to us and unites himself with us in an intimate union. What’s more, in the tabernacle he stays with us in our churches so we can be in his presence at times outside of Mass.
The other sacraments too bring us into direct contact with Jesus. In them Jesus acts to bring us closer to him. For example, in the Sacrament of Penance, we hear him forgive us through the words of the priest. And in the Anointing of the Sick Jesus strengthens us to endure suffering and to face death.
Like other Christians, we believe that Scripture is a way to know Jesus better. Besides giving us information about his life and mission, Scripture is his Word. Through it Jesus speaks directly and personally to us.
As we approach the Year of Faith that begins this October 11, we might deepen our relationship with Jesus. We can do this by praying. The American author Flannery O’Connor said that every day she sat before a blank sheet of paper from 9:00 am to 12 and waited for inspiration. Some days nothing came, but if an idea did come along, she was there ready for it. Her method also applies to prayer. If we carve out time in our day for Jesus to speak to us, he has a chance to do so! We will be doing what the Father says at the Transfiguration: “Listen to my beloved Son.”
To know more about Jesus, you might read my book The Catholic Companion to Jesus, available in the Bookstore here. It covers many things you might not know about him based on archaeology and modern Scripture studies.
AN OFFER: There were reflection questions for each chapter of this book. But the book was so long that the publisher cut them! If you would like a copy of these questions for your study group or personal reflection, send me your e-mail address via Contact on the top menu and I’ll see that you get them.