AN EXTRAORDINARY ENCOUNTER
Kathy Bernard - Publisher
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone
hears my voice and opens
the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."
- Revelation 3:20
you have a
personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
Webster defines a relationship as a "connection or bond that
exists between two people. An affinity or a link that ties one to another".
In a spiritual sense, it is a relationship that unites
each of us to the higher power of Jesus Christ. It is totally personal, for each of us has an
alliance that is exclusive. In addition, it is the willingness to hand
over our lives into His hands through trust and faith; a personal
consent to lay all things before Him, knowing that He will be there
in times of need. We are invited to "just call to
talk" through prayer knowing He is always available to listen to the
good as well as the bad things. He asks only that we believe and
have faith in Him, and He promises in
Matthew 28:20 that He will be with us always, even to the end.
Can Jesus Christ really be your friend? And if so, how can we
get a personal relationship with Him? Speaking on how we can know Jesus to the
25,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City in 2008, Pope Benedict
began his address by noting that St. Paul himself distinguishes two ways of knowing
Jesus. In Paul's Second letter to the Corinthians, he tells, "Even if we once
knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him no longer. To know someone
"according to the flesh," the Pope said, "means knowing them from the
outside; how someone speaks, moves, etc. And yet, one does not really know a person
from mere externals", he explained. The only way to truly know someone else is
with the heart, unlike the Sadducees and the Pharisees who only knew Jesus
God has put something unique and precious within each of us. It
cannot be seen, but it guides us away from imperfect sin. It is called the Holy
Spirit and we each are blessed with it. But the Holy Spirit does not force us to
recognize He is there. It will lie dormant until we acknowledge that Jesus is
the Lord of our life. Therefore we must invite Jesus Christ into our hearts of our own
volition. We do this by accepting His 'knock on the door'
in our hearts and
accept God's re-birth through His Son's sacrifice on Calvary. The scripture
reads in John 3:3 " I say unto you, except a man be born
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." See also John 3:7 and 1Peter 1:23.
"For each one of you, as for the Apostles, the encounter with
the Divine Teacher (Jesus) Who calls you friends may be the beginning of an extraordinary
venture; that of becoming apostles among your contemporaries to lead them to live their
own experience of friendship with God, made Man (the Son), with God Who has made Himself
my Friend." Pope Benedict XV1, INIV Congress 4/10/2006.
And again, addressing an audience in Vatican City in 2008, the Pope
referred to St. Paul's relationship to Christ and reminded the faithful that for Paul,
"Jesus is alive, speaks for us and lives with us. ..St. Paul does not think of Jesus
as a historian would; he does not see Jesus as a figure of the past. He certainly
knows the tradition regarding His life but does not treat Him (Christ) as someone in the
past but as the reality of the living Jesus. Jesus lives and speaks with us
today. This is the true form of knowing Jesus and the tradition about
I am reminded of a story about a bumblebee, who accidently fell
into an open tumbler. Even though he was able to fly, sadly he
could not see beyond the walls of that clear glass. It never saw
the means of escape at the top, but persisted in trying to find some
way out through the sides near the bottom. Around and around he
went until he finally gave up and forfeited his life, never
realizing that freedom was right there waiting at the top. In many
ways, some people are just like that. They are trapped in the glass of
earthly living and strife, and never take the time to look up. If
left there, they will be imprisoned, lost in the wiles of this
earth, never realizing that if only they would look up, they would
see Jesus holding out a hand, carrying the gift of salvation. Alas,
they miss the joy of a personal encounter.
Is it hard to live as a Christian? Yes, many times it is.
And why is it hard? Because Satan rules this earth and we are born in sin.
Through temptation, Satan tries to make us to lose faith and therefore our salvation by
dangling the hidden desires of our hearts before us. Satan dresses up sin so well it
is hard to turn away.
Father Gerhart Habison was born in Vienna,
Austria. He graduated from the Akademisches Gymnasium High School, and studied at
the University of Economics from 1961 through 1965. He then attended the Archdiocese
Seminary in the Ninth District of Vienna from 1969 to 1972, and the Institute
Catholique in Paris from 1973 to 1975. He was ordained in 1976 and became a member
of the Ecumenical Pro Oriente Foundation which was founded in 1960 in Vienna by Cardinal
Koeing. In an interview with CatholicView several years ago, Father Gerhart
had this to say about having a relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ: "God's quality of love actually is the key and
the reason we can relate to Him. In John Chapter 15 it says, " It is not you
who have chosen Me, it is I who has chosen you." And God chose us in love
and revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ and this revelation was continued by the
Holy Spirit.. In the Old Testament it is said we should have no image of
God. But then He gave us His Son Jesus Christ. God Himself gave us
His image so we can relate to Him on a human level." In John 14:9:
"Jesus replied to Philip, Have I been with you all this time and yet you still
dont know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you
asking me to show him to you?"
"Indeed, Jesus Christ is the way to
the Father. By His life, death and resurrection He opened the way for us. In
the Gospel Jesus tells us: No one can come to the Father unless/except through me.
Without Jesus we could not understand God at all. But the Holy Spirit whom He sent
us is as important! God is a Triune God. It is through Christ, through the
Holy Spirit and through friendship with our Savior that allows us a working relationship
continues, "You probably noticed a certain perspective which I favor because of my
personal experience and so I want to talk about my religious background and how God
has guided me until today. When people say they are converts, I cannot even say
that. At one time I was a neophyte. It means newly baptized because my parents
did not bring me up in any religion. They had lost their faith before they got to
know each other and they just had a civil marriage. Gods Grace was not
involved. And whatever their reasons, they had left the church. And they,
especially my father, thought it would be their unholy duty to keep me and my two sisters
away from the church. My parents were successful to some extent but I found out
there were people who believed in God. I couldnt take part in religious
education or anything to do with religion. In fact, I never saw a church from the
inside. So life without knowing God was not good and without being able to
experience His Graces conveyed through the church is a very sad life. That is what I
found out. And very early, from the age of twelve, my biggest question was not this
and that, sports or sex, it was What is the reason and the meaning of my
life? Because I didnt have one. Without God there is no reason or
"The Grace of
God reached me through various persons and events and Catholic teachers orchestrated
something in me. I was very aware of that. Friends, Catholic friends, not
necessarily my schoolmates because they were more or less like myself but others,
various works of art, literature, good movies, and gospel music made an impression on
me. During my studies of economics when I was out of high school I was touched by
the media reports about Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council and finally I
decided to read the Bible at age 21. In the newspapers, there was a long story about
Pope John and at that moment I said to myself Ill get myself a
Bible. Ill buy a Bible and I will read it. Actually I had read a
few verses in the Bible before. And so, I read the Bible and was immediately
captured and overwhelmed. This was a book with maybe twelve hundred pages
which would normally take me a week to read but I knew I couldnt read it that fast.
It would take me longer. It took me four months or more. Then the New Testament said
Those who believe in Me and have been baptized will be saved. I thought,
'thats for me'. After one on one catechism
sessions with a Capuchin Friar I received baptism on October 6, 1964."
we open our hearts, Jesus will come in and live with us. If we close our hearts, we distance
ourselves from Him.
It is our own human decision.
Psalm Chapter 145 tells us:
"The Lord is near to all who call."
Receiving Christ means turning away from sin and
giving ourselves to Him. But if I just agree on an intellectual
plane that Jesus Christ is the Son of God Who died on the cross at
Calvary for my sins, this is not sufficient. It is not enough to
have a casual moment of reflection. No. I must invite Him into my
life through absolute trust, with my acceptance an act of free
will. Only then will He come and reside within me. I must give up
self through love and complete faith in Him, finally realizing I am nothing without Him in my life.
With that love, He will forge a relationship with me and I with Him.
He will open my soul to uplifting comprehension and I will be loved as I have never been loved before,
surpassing all human understanding.
All of us who have
experienced this extraordinary encounter with Jesus Christ know that
have been cleansed and stamped "redeemed" through His precious blood, and one day He will take
us home to live with Him in glory forever.
Accept it with faith and continue to move forward in His Grace and
"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.
They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will
listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me."
- Jeremiah 11-13