Reflecting over 2014, I have been thinking about the encounters with Christ I have had through the deaths of three of my grandparents, which all happened within roughly the past year.
The one thing that all three deaths had in common was this vibrant spirit yearning and fighting to leave their aged bodies and move on to the next life in the last weeks of their lives. My grandpa kept trying to take of his clothes saying, “I came into this world naked, I’m going out naked!” My Nana spent hours in tears asking, “Why do we have to live so long?” And the last, my Grandad, mustered up just enough energy to use his last words to greet my husband and me when we came to say goodbye. My cousin arrived just a few hours later and had the great privilege of gently taking him by the hand and “walking” Grandad to heaven to join his beloved wife of 60+ years – an experience my cousin explains as “divinely surreal.”
What these encounters with Christ did for me were to fortify my belief in our God, who, as Father Satish stated in his homily for the Commemoration of all Souls, “Loves us beyond death,” and also helped me realize how short our lives really are here on Earth, as every memory with each one of them- from my childhood through the present day- flashed through my mind with each passing. And most importantly, the encounters showed me that there is no greater purpose for our short lives here on Earth than to commit our hearts and lives to the mission of Jesus so that all those we meet can also know the God who “loves us beyond death.”
After Father Satish's homily on "The Parable of our True Worth", I asked my pre-teen daughter how she wanted to look back on her life and be proud of herself. She proved herself much more mature and focused than I was at her age, and said she that wants to be a second grade teacher and "help others grow in their faith." The conversation led to me sharing my testimony with her, a great mother-daughter bonding experience, and encounters with Christ for both of us.
I see Christ in my mom everyday. She goes to work everyday in order to care for our family and she comes back with love and a smile even when we are not a perfect family. - age 11
Here are some encounters with Christ submitted by a one of I.C.'s Religious Education PREP classes - the children are all between 8 and 10 years old:
*My first time serving was when I was poured with Jesus' love! The visiting priest touched my cross necklace and I felt the Holy Spirit! Now I enjoy serving every time!
*Sunset in the clouds.
*When I sing and serve at church! I enjoy being invited to sing and serve the Lord!
*When Jesus touched my heart when I was praying and singing.
* The clouds remind me of God.
*One time when my sister didn't know a Bible story I read from the Bible and asked her questions about them then she understood more.
* I had two encounters with Christ. I had two dreams about him. One of the dreams I was brushing my hair in front of my mirror and Jesus came up behind me singing.
My encounter with Christ daily is through my sister. She has shown us everything. She has opened so many doors. I think the best way to encounter Christ is through the people you love most.
Homily: The Cross Carries You
Quote: "It is no longer you who carry the cross; it is the cross that carries you: The cross does not crush but exalts you."
Only days later I was listening to a fellow parishioner talk of his experiences growing up. In the end he shared the story of the necessary responsibilities he shouldered for his handicapped brother, finishing with the truth of the matter as he relayed, "And, you know, I can tell you, everything I became and accomplished I can credit to my brother."
HADN'T I JUST HEARD THIS???
A class of First Communicants aged 7 and 8 was asked, "How did you encounter Christ this week?" (though prayer, scripture, an act of kindness, a peaceful, joyful, scary moment, etc) and here are some of their oh, so sweet responses:
* My friend gave me chips at a soccer game.
* At the dinner table and at bed when we prayed I felt God. Each time I prayed he was there.
* I know he was with me when I fell face first on the cement and it hurt a lot.
* When I was scared.
* I won a soccer game. I know what the score was - it was 8 to 1- and we gave a fist bump to the referee - it was God.
* My encounter with Christ was when last night we watched Dolphin Tale and my family watched, too. It was relaxing and fun.