The Catholic spirituality is not just another religion; nor is it one of many paths to reaching God. It is a living relationship with God which all baptized are called to live out through Jesus. Many of us fail to realise that every Holy Mass that we attend provides an opportunity for us to have a deep personal encounter with Jesus. The invitation to this encounter is by the Lord Himself to one and all. What is needed is a deep desire to meet Him there and a prior preparation of heart for a fruitful time of worship.
Jesus said –
I do not call you servants … but I have called you friends.– John 15:15
When two friends spend more time together, their friendship increases and as they enjoy each other’s company more and more, the intimacy increases. It is the same with Jesus! As we spend more and more quality time with Him in prayer and give Him our hearts, this friendship grows, and we experience an inner transformation. This is what God desires from each of us – a friendship which is unconditional and with no strings attached.
As we move into eternity from this passing world (1Jn 2:17), it is this friendship with Jesus that we carry forward, nothing else!
God desires our love
The Lamb of God has sacrificed Himself completely and wholly for our salvation. He has completely paid the price for our sins (Isa 53:5). Without Jesus having done this, the possibility of going to heaven would NOT be there for us. Such a great act of self-denial and suffering, leading to His death and subsequent resurrection, thereby giving us a soul-stirring hope of an eternal future! What then can we give to Him in return?
What can a mere mortal give to the eternal King of glory? Even after we give all we can, we still fall short of His glory. Yet, in spite of this ‘failing’, our Lord sees each of us as so very precious in His sight, to the extent that He knows and calls each of us by name (Isa 49:1). The reason for His great love is this – He desires a permanent and living relationship with one and all which flows into Eternity (1Tim 2:4).
Giving our hearts to Jesus is the best gift we can offer Him. It makes a spiritual union possible and it allows Him to mould us and influence our thoughts and lives in ways beyond our reasoning.
Our physical presence at Mass progresses from mere attendance to sincere participation in the Eucharistic celebration. In this way, God’s glory descends and His presence becomes tangible as He is enthroned on the praises of His people (Ps 22:3).
We can’t deserve or earn the graces from the Lord, because grace is free, else it wouldn’t be grace. We also cannot ‘pay back’ to the Lord for all the favours received, because nothing can really please Him – except that we joyfully offer to Him our hearts in friendship and walk in holy obedience to His precepts.
Without doing this, all our good works, activities, ministries and seemingly nice deeds are secondary, and could even be meaningless.
“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?” says the Lord.– Isa 1:11
Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord.– Joel 2:13
A sacrifice acceptable to the Lord is a contrite heart.– Ps 51:17
While all our charitable works, ministries, devotions, faithful attendance at church, etc. are very much encouraged and important, without certain interior attitudes in place, the heart of God cannot really be pleased. All Jesus wants is an attitude of humility and a sacrifice of praise and surrender; and that we believe in Him, accept Him, and respond to His divine work in our lives.
To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.– John 1:12
This is how a living relationship with God is activated. True circumcision is that of the heart and is something spiritual (Romans 2:29). Being disciples, each of us has a divine calling to walk closely with Jesus. This is a spiritual walk of faith which becomes stronger the more we journey with Him. As mentioned earlier, when two friends spend more and more time together, their intimacy with each other increases.
With hearts united with the Lord’s, and with hearts led by the Holy Spirit to be true children of God (Rom 8:14), let us pray to have hearts beating with the unconditional love of the Father and to develop hearts living for His glory!
This friendship with God takes shape when we give our hearts to Jesus. What does this mean for us today? This will be addressed separately in the article titled “Giving your heart to Jesus”.
Published in Charisindia in Sep. 2017 as a bigger article titled “Giving your heart to Jesus“