PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST
“Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers his lambs, carrying them in his bosom and leading the ewes with care.” (Isaiah 40:11)
In this section, the Holy Father is shepherding us. He has given strong words about evangelizing and here is encouraging all of us when we face the struggles involved. He is speaking as shepherd, not so much as teacher. He is admonishing us a little, encouraging us a lot and providing inspiration to go forward,
He admonishes us telling us not to let discouragement enter our hearts when we do not see the results that we desire from our efforts. He points out that some people will not commit themselves to mission because they think that nothing will change and that it is useless to make the effort. He says, “Sometimes it seems like our life is not fruitful, but mission is not like a business transaction or investment, or even a humanitarian activity. It is not a show where we can count how many people came as a result of our activity.” And he says, “If we think that things are not going to change, we need to recall that Jesus Christ has triumphed over sin and death and is now almighty.”
He encourages us by reminding us that “the kingdom of God is already present in this world and is growing here and there in different ways, like the small seed that grows into a great tree. (Mt. 13:31-32) He reiterates that “Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world.”
Near my home is an old tennis court in need of resurfacing. I walk my dog around it each morning and each morning I am struck again by a purple plant that somehow has managed to crack the cement and bloom in the middle of the court. “How is this possible?” I wonder, “because cement is much stronger than the leaves of a plant.” It causes me to remember that secular human thinking doesn’t know everything about power and what is weak and what is strong. It is a reminder of resurrection power. Of this, the Holy Father is speaking. He says, “On razed land, life breaks through stubbornly yet invincibly."
He urges us to have a firm trust in the Holy Spirit who works, as he wills, when he wills and where he wills.” He tells us that only our commitment is necessary. He says, “Give him everything, allowing him to make our efforts bear fruit in his good time.”
He inspires us with the idea that we need not control everything to the last detail but instead let the Holy Spirit enlighten, guide and direct us, leading us wherever he wills.
Our shepherd on this earth sends us forth to sow seeds and leave the results to God.
He says, “If we think that things are not going to change, we need to recall that Jesus Christ has triumphed over sin and death and is now almighty.”
Carol Marquardt has worked for many years in lay ministry in the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida. She is the author of The Sound of His Voice, the first book in the Our Fiat program, a structured prayer program utilizing scriptural mediation and prayerful listening which draws you into a deeper personal relationship with Jesus. Before beginning the development of the Our Fiat materials and Mantle of Mary Association, she served as adult education director, catechumenate director, retreat house director, and charismatic prayer group leader. Along with these positions, she has worked in inner healing ministry and spiritual direction. She has also lead pilgrimages to Marian shrines such as Medjugorje, Lourdes, and Guadalupe, as well as Rome and Assisi. She has participated in evangelization missions to Eastern Europe with Renewal Ministries from Ann Arbor, Michigan USA.