DAY 3: Encounter
REFLECTION: In the Gospels, we hear stories about the people who encountered Jesus—a woman at a well, a rich man, a group of fishermen. But what about the people that are not recorded (John 21:25)? How many thousands of people did Jesus encounter? An encounter with Christ is always loving, but it may not always feel good. A true encounter challenges us because Jesus contradicts those things in our hearts that are not good. While Jesus is always for us (Romans 8:31), he opposes anything that might hurt us. When we encounter Jesus, he is an adversary against the sin in our hearts and the habits and vices that prevent us from being holy. Two people encountered Jesus in this way. The first was a woman who was gathering water at a well. Jesus called out her disordered attachment to affection and the ways she was looking for love but settling for counterfeits. The second was a rich man who had a disordered attachment to money that prevented him from loving others. The woman encountered Jesus and left changed, telling everyone about him. The man was disappointed and left sad. Both encounters were challenging, and both people left known and seen by Jesus. Many people experienced Jesus, and surely many encountered him that we do not hear about. But what about you? Have you had an encounter with Jesus that left you changed? “Encounter” isn’t necessarily a feel-good experience. The word comes from two Latin roots—“in” and “contra”—which, taken together, signify the meeting of adversaries. To encounter Jesus is to face a confrontation of sorts. When we meet him, we are presented with a choice: let go of what holds us back from holiness and grasp the hand of the Savior, or remain in sin. Encounters with Jesus offer us the opportunity to become different people. One thing is for certain: when we encounter Jesus, we are changed forever. Even if we choose not to follow Jesus, meeting him is radically memorable.
PRAYER: Jesus, many people have experienced you, but I want to encounter you. Show me the places in my heart and in my life that keep me from you, and give me the grace I need to let them go so I can love you fully and embrace your call in my life. Amen.
CHALLENGE: Make a commitment and plan to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation sometime in the next seven days. What if you rearranged your schedule and went today? The Sacrament of Reconciliation requires us to confront our sins and disordered attachments, but it is always an encounter with the mercy of Jesus.