Pastor’s Letter 1.14.18

Dear Friends,

In the gospel today, disciples of John the Baptist begin to follow Jesus and he invites them to
come and stay with him. That is how they get to know him. It is how we get to know him too.
One of the first demands of discipleship is to have a relationship with Jesus. This time with Jesus
and his Father is both public and private. Yes, it is very important to come and spend time with the
community at Sunday Mass, but Jesus also told us to pray in private. To establish a good friendship with
Jesus we need to pray, honestly and deeply, in private.

What are some other ways to get to know Jesus? St. John of the Cross in his book The Ascent of
Mount Carmel offers five counsels to do that. Fr. Rolheiser condensed the five down to these
admonitions:

The first counsel is to study the life of Christ, meditate on it, and try in every way to bring our own
lives into conformity with Jesus’ teachings.

The second is to try to imitate Christ by striving to imitate his motivation. Our actions are less
important than our reason for doing them. Christ acted not because it brought him pleasure or
ultimately enhanced his own life; he acted for a higher reason: to do his Father’s will. That too
must become our motivation.

John of the Cross invites those who are following Jesus to look and see if the cross of Christ is
emerging in their own lives. If the cross does not find us, he suggests we reexamine how we are
living because we must not be following Jesus correctly.

His fourth suggestion is we work against our natural instinct to be the center of attention. For John,
we move toward maturity by striving to be a listener rather than one seeking to be listened to, by
striving to give our attention to others rather than seeking to be the center of attention, and by
striving to be the one who is blessing rather than the one seeking blessing.

Finally, much like Francis of Assisi, he invites us to move toward maturity in discipleship by a
dialectical road which he expressed in a poem:

To reach satisfaction in all
desire satisfaction in nothing.
To come to possess all
desire the possession of nothing.
To arrive at being all
desire to be nothing.
To come to the knowledge of all
desire the knowledge of nothing.
To come to enjoy what you have not
you must go by a way in which you enjoy not.
To come to the knowledge you have not
you must go by a way in which you know not.
To come to the possession what you have not
you must go by a way in which you possess not.
To come to be what you are not
you must go by a way in which you are not.

The journey to become a mature follower of Jesus is filled with wonderful adventures and makes
us into the kind of person we really want to be. But it is, at its heart, a struggle to give our lives away. In
doing so we need to remember that God will give us the grace to make it happen. Trust that God will do
so. Come and stay with Jesus for awhile.

Peace,

Fr. Damian

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