“Having a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ over the past ten years has become one of the most important aspects of my personal journey as a Catholic.” – Darrin

Years ago, it was like a switch was turned on in my heart. Here is what changed. I used to hear scripture and say to myself, “I already know that story. The one where Jesus heals the Blind Man. That was so great that he healed that poor man who was blind, he needed it”. Or “Oh yes, I remember this story, this is the one where Jesus is challenged by the Pharisees for healing someone on the Sabbath. Those Pharisees were so arrogant thinking they could outsmart Jesus”. Then a switch went on in my heart as a Catholic that began to change my life.

I remember waking up to the fact the Gospels were not just stories to be heard. I began to realize the Gospels were not just historical accounts about Jesus Christ. I began to realize that the Gospels were about my own life. The ‘words and deeds’ of Jesus from the Gospels were not just for his disciples and other people back then. His words and deeds were exactly what I needed for my life today. Then I really started to see me being the one encountered by Jesus in the Gospels.

The Blind Man is me, needing Jesus to help me with my struggles to see the depth of God’s presence in my life. The Woman at the well is me, the times when I am stuck in feelings of shame needing Jesus’ loving mercy and truth. The question that Jesus asks Peter, ‘Who do you say that I am’ in your life, is a question Jesus is asking me each day. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that ‘God thirsts’ for an intimate relationship with me. This is the faith God desires me to have in Him. To trust in his providential love and wisdom for my life. This is why He came in the flesh, so he can be present to all of us now, in this very moment of life.

This light that went on in my heart began to help me see a much deeper meaning for my life as a Catholic. I went from a strong ‘practicing’ Catholic to a Catholic who was really starting to understand why we it is important to have a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Pope Francis and all the other pope’s since Vatican II, have been encouraging us to understand that our hearts need to be constantly evangelized by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. They want us to know that in order to really appreciate the depths of what it means to be a Christian, what it means to be ‘the Body of Christ’, and the ‘missionary Church’ for the world, that we need to allow the words and deeds of Jesus Christ speak directly to our own personal lives. When we do this, we then experience God’s healing grace for our own personal restoration and become authentic witnesses to the presence of the Kingdom of God in other people’s lives.

Receiving the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist now has a much deeper meaning for me in my life. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is no longer a time where I go to just acknowledge my sins. Reconciliation is a moment with Jesus Christ speaking to him about my brokenness and having faith that He heals and strengthens me through his loving mercy. My role as a husband, father and friend, now has a much deeper meaning and purpose for my life. I am no longer someone that needs to be in control of every situation. I now live as a loving example who allows God to be at the very center of these relationships.

When Jesus says, “Come and you will see” or “Remain in me” or “Go, your faith has healed you”, I respond. I would encourage you to reflect on the Gospel story of the 10 lepers in the Gospel of Luke (Lk 17:11-19) . Ten were cleansed, healed and their lives restored no longer living as society outcasts. But only one returned to Jesus. The other nine didn’t. They just continued on with their life. I used to be one of the nine who just took what they received from Jesus and continued on. I used to say, “I am so pleased that God helped me through that situation, now I can get on with my life”. I now see how that was a very shallow understanding of who Jesus Christ desires to be in my life. But now, I am very much like the one leper in the Gospel story.  I come back to Jesus.

I come back to Jesus each day of my life. The excuse I use to give myself, “I don’t have time” to sit with Jesus reading the Gospels and having a prayerful conversation with him, no longer exists in my life. It is no longer an excuse. What I have learned from returning to Him is that time and time again is that Jesus Christ is the answer to all the challenges that you face in your life that you are trying to figure out how to handle. I have a choice every day, to either go to Him and acknowledge His real presence in my life, or to treat him like a story told in a different time.

So how about you? Has the switch in your heart been turned on yet desiring a more personal relationship with Jesus? How are you currently responding to Jesus’ presence in your life today? Are you one of the nine lepers who just continue on with their lives? Or are you the one leper who desires Jesus and returns to Him to be one of his followers?

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