Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Recognizing Christ: Lessons Learned from the Daughters of St. Paul

Stare at the line of four dots in the center for 30-60 seconds then stare at a white paper or wall.
In last Sunday’s Gospel reading, the seven disciples to whom Jesus appeared at the Sea of Tiberius did not initially recognize Jesus until after their miraculous haul of fish (Jn 21:1-19). In next Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus states, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me” (Jn 10:27). These two passages make me ask myself how I know and recognize the Divine Master in my own life.

I have confidence that I am hearing Jesus when I hear His voice through a friend I know is close to
Christ. When Sr. Jackie Jean-Marie Gitonga, fsp, holds my hand and tells me that Jesus and His Blessed Mother understand a particular struggle I am going through and will remain with me until the end, I get chills up my spine at the unequivocal assurance that her words are from Jesus Master. Sr. Jackie is a friend, a prayer warrior, and a loving and beloved spouse of Jesus. Through her, I can grow closer to Christ. The joy that fills her life and the love she cannot help but share with others show us the Way to Jesus. She is one of over a hundred Daughters of St. Paul in my life who represent Jesus Way.

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I also know I am hearing Christ is when I listen to the Pope and teachings of the Magisterium. I always remember Jesus promising St. Peter that the gates of hell would never prevail against His Church (Mt 16:18). When Pope Francis encourages us to seek out opportunities to show mercy to others, I have no doubt I am hearing Christ speak through his Vicar on Earth. The message is also usually a clue; a call to act with greater mercy toward others must come from Jesus who is Divine Mercy itself. I can most easily find truths of our faith on any shelf of a Pauline Books and Media Center. Every time Sr. Cynthia Guza, fsp, recommends a book or CD or DVD for me, I know it will be as rock solid as St. Peter. The Gospel message, especially as spread through the apostolate of the Good Press, represents Jesus Truth.

Finally, and most importantly, I need to strengthen my own relationship with Jesus, mainly by spending time with Him. I think of my own children; I have spent so much time with my children every day for years and years that if one whispers to me while I am sleeping at 2 AM, I immediately know which child it is and can often even anticipate his or her needs. Of course now they range from 22 to 17 years old, so middle of the night problems are usually much bigger than when they used to request a light on, a glass of water, or help for an upset stomach. The stressful situations I encounter at work have certainly not grown easier with time. Life changes, and we encounter terrifying surprises in our life that we never dreamed we would someday be experiencing. The one constant, the one thing that never changes, is the presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, in our family and friends, in our Church (especially in the Eucharist and the other Sacraments), and always in us. He is always here for us, but we need to make certain that we do not ignore Him.

Pray. We need to pray. Prayer can seem so daunting at times, but Sr. Mary Lea Hill, fsp (the Crabby Mystic), teaches in her books how to simply and easily talk to the God who already knows us intimately, as well as our desires, wishes, and most of all, our great fears. If we work on this friendship and talk more to Jesus and set time aside for this relationship as we would for our spouse, our children, and our friends, we will surely come to know Jesus when we see Him in others and when we hear His voice in the quiet of our sometimes aching and at other times joyful hearts. Cultivating our relationship with Christ is the surest way to know the Blessed Trinity. This vitally important relationship is Jesus Life.
As we continue to work through these steps of the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we cannot help but know God’s love in this life and for eternity, and no one, ever, “can snatch it out of the Father’s hand” (Jn 10:30).

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Jeffrey E. Mathews, MD, has been a Pauline Cooperator since October 11, 2009. He and his wife, Carolyn, live in St. Louis, MO, and are blessed with three sons and two daughters (two out of college, two in college, and one in high school). Dr. Mathews, a gastroenterologist, is trying really hard to improve his Spanish for his annual medical mission trip to Honduras.


1 comment:

Maryann Toth said...

Wonderful article, Jeff. Thank you. Second your comments about our dear friends, the Daughters of St. Paul, who continue to teach us valuable lessons. Love the picture at the introduction of your post! Maryann Toth