The Definitive Encounter

Challenge: Exercise a greater confidence in God today in the face of any hardship or disappointment.
by Father Jeffrey Bowker, LC | Source:

January 4, 2010
Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious

Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen." From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.  His fame spread to all of Syria, and they brought to him all who were sick with various diseases and racked with pain, those who were possessed, lunatics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

Introductory Prayer: Lord I wish to encounter you in this prayer as if it were the first time you ever crossed my path. Let me break from all routine and distraction. May I find you in this encounter in such a way that I will be transformed by what I see and hear. 

Petition: Lord grant me an experiential knowledge of your divinity and a deeper love for you because of it.

1. He Withdrew to Galilee
Christ chose to live as a pilgrim who had no home among the men of this world. He did not rely on the world for strength, consolation, or effectiveness in his mission. As the prophet Isaiah foretold of him, “like a root in arid ground he grew up before us.” Every person who wishes to persevere in the path of salvation will have to choose between letting the stimuli of the world move you along or radically abandoning it for the hidden and divine sources of life the world cannot provide. Every day, whether consciously or not, a mold is cast — forged by grace and prayer or by worldly satisfactions and gains. Holy ideals and a noble mission may be in one’s heart, but he who does not will the means to a supernatural life of grace, will not achieve that end. A Christian who fragments his spirit with the mundane, and is unwilling to separate himself from the world like Christ did, is truly a Christian at risk.

2. People Sitting in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light
Whenever the light dawns, the contrast to darkness is felt, whenever grace emerges in the midst of evil, it all the more abounds, and wherever holiness is truly authentic, a real apostle must usher forth. A lack of vocations to the priesthood or a lack of laypeople involved in the Church’s works of evangelization can only happen because its proper cause – living the life of Christ – is lacking. Christ is the light of the world, the primary cause of all the Church’s fruitfulness. Without his living presence in a person’s life, neither is the sense of mission felt nor does a vocation come forth. Can I say I have a living relationship with Christ? Does this relationship manifest itself in my sense of mission?  

3. Repent, the Kingdom of God Is at Hand
These words on the lips of John the Baptist spoke of an event to come. On the lips of Christ, they speak no longer of that imminent coming, but of the event itself consummated in the hearing of God’s word. Dabar, the Hebrew verb that refers to God revealing himself, means more than a mere giving of divine information. When God speaks, power flows. His word makes effective what is revealed. The Light has come into the world and not merely to get men to know right from wrong and to admit faults. Rather, grace and power flow into weak yet open hearts, so that a whole new direction in life may be taken and a whole new foundation may be laid. In Christ, the Kingdom is not only on the way, but has arrived; the time of wait is over. The Kingdom is now – in our sacramental life, in our prayer, in the apostolate. Wherever Christ is preached with authenticity, divine word and power are united. May my heart receive this power with an attitude of promptness. Now is the time for Christ! Now is the time for an active conversion of life!

Dialogue with Christ: Lord you are infinite power and mercy among men. The divine touches earth with every move you make to heal and guide, to build and tear down, to inspire and make new. I confide in you this day to change my world for the better, and I promise to let you find no obstacle in me to your grace.

Resolution: I will exercise a greater confidence in God today in the face of any hardship or disappointment, and promptly respond to his graces.

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