26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
At the end of today’s reading from his letter St Paul says that the point of everything is so that all might know Jesus, and thus bend the knee at the name of Jesus and acclaim him as Lord.
It is good to put into words some of the ways in which, two thousand years after Paul met him outside Damascus Gate, we know Jesus.
The first step to knowing Jesus is desire. In each of us is a desire to be happy, to do what is right, a desire for the future. Sometimes it is strong sometimes weak, but this desire is the beginning of prayer, of living a good life indeed of everything we do, for it is at heart the desire to know and love God, to know and love ourselves, to know and love each other. That desire is implanted in us at the moment of our creation ‘ we are made to know God, to love him, to serve him in this world and to be happy with him in the next’ and this desire is kept alive by the Holy Spirit.
Once we try to satisfy that desire the first important steps to knowing and loving Jesus are prayer and the sacraments and service. In prayer and in the sacraments Jesus makes himself known. By water, by Holy oil, Jesus gives himself to us in Baptism and Confirmation. By the bread and wine that become his body and blood we become his body the Church, as we listen in confession to the words “I absolve you from your sins” our Lord unites us more deeply to himself. Knowing Jesus begins by letting him give himself to us, above all by listening to his word in the scriptures, adoring and receiving him in holy communion. It is a long journey, we must be shaped and formed if we are to be capable of receiving Our Lord. This will only happen if that desire is burning in our hearts to know the one who loves us so. Without desire prayer becomes routine, mass a duty. So ask again and again for that burning desire, the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Along with this goes service. Work done in imitation of Christ, for the sake of others. Service can give life, share in creation and serve salvation. Like the desire for happiness it is already planted in each of us. A mum feeds her children, a Dad goes to work, a Priest begins his parish duties, because children, husbands, wives, parishioners are people we know, people we love, people we serve. And in them we know and love and serve Christ. And the more we know and love and serve Christ the more our love for him will overflow to serve others, especially the poor and needy.
This leads to a fourth aspect. Witness. In the lives of others we recognise the powerful attraction of knowing Jesus. Others, especially the saints, by their lives explain and reveal Christ to us. They call us to know Jesus. But never underestimate how your knowledge and love of Jesus shines through your lives in so many different ways you are all potentially saints.
Then there is study. Study in the sense of effort, application, something which you do with all your heart and mind and body. Applying ourselves to understand what we have been given, what we have seen, what we already have. Study is when our faith seeks to understand. To know what we believe. So study isn’t necessarily opening a book, it might be observing the world, the attempt to understand the world around us and recognise Our Lord there.
The final way is Holiness. United in Christ through our common baptism we are Holy. We are brothers and sisters making up the body of Christ. Each of us has our calling, by faithfully living that calling in the world, be it marriage, priesthood, the religious life, a life of chastity, a life of service we build up the body of Christ, we strengthen our Brothers and Sisters. And as the Church grows, as our Brothers and Sisters are strengthened so Christ is seen and known. This is the call to holiness.
To know Jesus is a journey. A journey needs plans and maps, thought and preparation. And the essentials for this journey are Desire, the Sacraments and Prayer, Service, Witness, Study, and Holiness