Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

One of the things I have been meditating on lately is my own spiritual walk.  Have I grown?   Have I changed?  What have these two years of Aspirancy done to me and for me?   It's a serious question.  As we approach candidacy we are going to be asked that very same question.   Last night my wife and I were talking about it on the way home from our last class for this session. One of the things I came to realize is that I have changed in several ways, but one seems to stand out to me.  When I started this program four years ago in Ministry formation, I needed answers.  I needed them like a person needs a foundation to support themselves.  I wanted to know everything I could, especially those things that I needed to know to win an argument.  I still want answers. My reason for them has changed entirely.

I love Jesus.   I will proclaim that from the rooftops at the top of my lungs.   The answers I seek now are to know Him better.   The evangelization that I do is to point to Him.   I want to commit to memory everything that I can about His Church and it's documents in order to cement who He is in my mind and in my heart.  It's no longer about winning arguments or hearts, it's about pointing to the one I love across the room and telling someone about them.  Telling them how He has changed my life and how wonderful it is to know Him.  None of the things I speak about are to brag for I didn't earn them.   I didn't create the Church.   I don't even deserve to be a part of her, but by the grace of God, I am accepted among the members of her as a Child of God.     That's why I want to know.  I am graced to know.   It's my pleasure to know.

Why is it so important to know who Jesus is?   Jesus is the visible sign of the invisible.  It is through his life itself that we come to know who God the Father is.  Through faith, we see how Christ's entire life shows us the heart of the Father and his love for the world. (Ignatius Study Bible, pg 190, footnote 14:9)  It is in seeing Christ that we can see the Father.   In imitating Him in our lives that we become more like God.   I remember when I was younger I had this one friend who did everything I did.   He was a couple years younger than me and looked up to me.   It was flattering that He wanted to be like me.  Now when my daughter wants to do what I am doing or to be like me, it's both awesome and humbling.   It reminds me of my responsibility to her to be the best man I can be.   What more awesome example could I set with my life than to be like Him?

516 Christ's whole earthly life - his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking - is Revelation of the Father. Jesus can say: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father", and the Father can say: "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" Because our Lord became man in order to do his Father's will, even the least characteristics of his mysteries manifest "God's love. . . among us".

With that in mind, an encounter with Christ should change us.   It shouldn't leave us as the same person we were but instead, challenge us to grow.   Phillip on his first encounter with Christ immediately goes and finds Nathaniel and tells him to come and see.   It wasn't enough to see Jesus himself, his love for this new friend made him want to show Him to the world.  Just like I want people to know my wife and introduce her when I meet someone, I want them to know Jesus.   My heart burns with so much love for Him that I don't want it to be a secret.   I want others to be blessed with the feelings of joy and happiness that I get when I receive Him in the Eucharist, the mercy and grace I receive in Confession, and the immense amount of blessings and grace that are poured out on my wife and me through the Sacrament of marriage.  Why would I want to hold that back?  Fear?  Social acceptance?  Looking cool?  None of that matters.

I still have growing to do.  A lot of it.   So please, today on the Feast of the Apostles Phillip and James, pray for those men who are discerning vocations in our church today.   Please say a special prayer for my Diaconate class as we approach the final scrutiny before candidacy.   My prayer for you today is that Jesus fills your heart with joy to overflowing until you can't wait to speak to someone else about Him.   That the fire of the Holy Spirit will consume each of you so fully that you will be changed into that perfect person you were created to be, with the goal of Heaven in your mind and heart and ever on your lips.  May God bless you abundantly, pressed down, and flowing over.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for daily Mass on the Feast of the Apostles Phillip and James: May 3, 2017