Encounter, Grow, and Witness

The first sentence in today’s Letter to the Colossians can be broken down into three words as it relates to our call as women following Jesus Christ: encounter, grow, and witness. These words have a lot of meaning in my local community, the Archdiocese of Detroit. As a local church we’re working to “unleash the Gospel” in mighty new ways in Southeastern Michigan.

Encounter: “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord . . .” (Colossians 2:6)

How did you initially encounter Jesus in a personal way? We cannot love Him Whom we have not yet personally encountered. Jesus Christ can never truly be Lord over all in our lives if we have not met Him. When we receive the Lord, we can be changed by Him. But all of that begins with an encounter.

Grow: “walk in him . . .” (Colossians 2:6)

The word disciple translates to ‘learner.’ Being a disciple of Jesus means we are always learning to walk more in step with the King of Kings. It means we are trying to live the teachings of the Church and words of Jesus in Sacred Scripture. When we walk with Him in our daily lives, we are growing into who He created each of us to be.

Witness: “rooted in him and built upon him . . .” (Colossians 2:7)

When our lives are rooted in the truth of the Gospel, we can be His witness in the world. We need strong roots in the Sacraments, Saints, Community, and Scripture. When our roots are strong, we can be His band of joyful, missionary disciples.

Each of us needs a fresh outpouring. We all need to be made anew through encountering Jesus, growing as His disciples, and witnessing to Him in the world. For each of us it will look different, but none of us are exempt from this call on our lives. It is not a one-time deal. Rather, it is a continual, radical way of giving Jesus permission with our entire life. The more I give Jesus permission, the more He changes me from the inside out.

How have you personally encountered Jesus Christ? And where is that encounter leading you to witness to Him in your daily life?

[Tweet “The more I give Jesus permission, the more He changes me from the inside out. // @amoderngrace”]

Patty Breen is a runner, youth minister ordinaire, and thinks old movies are the greatest thing since sliced bread.  When not fundraising for World Youth Day, she is learning to find grace in all things. You can find out more about her here.

1 Comment

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    Megan Cahill-Assenza
    September 12, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I will never forget the day that I personally encountered Jesus. It all began July 2014.

    “Who the heck hangs a picture of Jesus on their wall?” I asked myself.
    I had never seen anyone do such a thing in my life.
    In the waiting room, I noticed a painting of Christ hanging on the wall in one of the therapists’ office.
    I sat on the black leather couch sinking into its deep cushion. My stomach, knotted. My chest, collapsing. My breath, shallow. The tension in my body had me near tears. My thoughts were going off like missiles. I could not stop fidgeting. Any moment now. Any moment now. Just wait. Just wait. I anticipated my visit with the psychiatrist. My eyes continued to look back at that portrait of Jesus. It unsettled me, but intrigued me…

    Growing up, I never thought about God’s existence. I went along with the idea that there was a heaven because it was a nice thought, not because I believed. I was baptized, but I grew up in a non-practicing secular home. The values I was brought up with did resemble Catholicism due to my parents’ upbringing in the Church. When the story of the resurrection was told to me as a child, it petrified me.

    What do you mean Jesus came back from the dead?
    Why doesn’t anyone else come back?
    He’s a GHOST!

    The religion to me was blood and gore. The very few times I was in a church, I felt uneasy. Looking up at the cross reminded me of the atrocious tragedy.

    “Megan…” The psychiatrist called with a smile. “You can follow me.”

    I felt desperate and hopeless sharing with yet another psychiatrist how I felt I was incapable of doing anything. My life was empty. I hardly went out with friends because I had a fear of getting sick, which worsened when I started college. I carried a vomit bag with me and used to starve myself, only eating at home. I never went to sleepovers and if I did, I was a nervous wreck. I barely drove. Heavy sweat marks underneath my arms made me extremely self-conscious. I eventually caught on it was not hormones that caused me to sweat. I pushed myself to the point of academic and anxiety ridden exhaustion, which lowered my immune system. I worried about my grades and if I was perceived smart, as I faced difficulties with my speech and language learning disability. My parents never put pressure on me about my grades; I put it all on myself. With all my heart, I wanted to have the college life and create meaningful friendships. I wanted to live a fulfilled life with meaning and passion. I did not want to continue to live this way.

    For years, I searched for someone to help me. I did not know that I was searching for God and He was going to free me.
    By the end of my session, the psychiatrist referred me to a new therapist. I had a strong intuition that the phone number was connected to the therapist with the picture of Jesus.

    A week later, I sat on the couch and to my left was the painting of Jesus. To my surprise, I trusted my new therapist instantly. I cannot explain why. As she asked me about my background, I glanced over to the portrait.

    “I’m not religious.” I bluntly stated, even though it was not a question she asked.

    “That’s fine,” my therapist said politely. “I only bring up Faith if people come specifically wanting to incorporate it.” She informed me that she was a Catholic Social Worker. I immediately trusted my new therapist.

    During the fall of 2014, I opened up about anxiety with my classmate who I was studying with. She suffered from it too. When I told her who my therapist was, I was surprised to learn that my therapist spoke at my classmate’s church about her miraculous healing of hemorrhaging, just like the woman in the bible. Although I was apprehensive, this was an invitation for me to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and be healed myself.

    I asked my therapist about her story when I saw her and she told me. This was the day I had my first encounter with God.

    “Megan, can I say something to you about God?” My therapist asked me.
    “God has His hand on your shoulder.”

    That day, October 2014, I met Christ, the Divine Counselor, the Master, even though I did not know it. For the first time, I felt comforted by the mention of God. Internal peace washed over me.

    Over time, I began to yearn to know Jesus. My chains of anxiety began to break when spirituality was incorporated with clinical interventions that changed my life forever. Instead of carrying a vomit bag, I transitioned carrying rosary beads.

    I sought out the Catholic Campus Minister and Newman Club. I shared with them that I did not identified myself as Catholic. Regardless, they embraced me. When I grew closer to my friends in Newman, I found that love is God. I felt God’s love through others. I was hungry for this love I lacked in my life. I wanted to know more about what life was like with Him. Like Mary Magdalene, I sat at the feet of Jesus absorbing all that was being said from my therapist, my catholic campus minister, my Newman Club friends, or during homilies at Mass.

    I made my Communion and Confirmation through Catholic Campus Ministry on April 24, 2016. I confirmed my love for Jesus and Blessed Mother. I know when I feel scared I can go to the upper room of my heart and have a real encounter with the Holy Spirit and find Jesus by praying, writing letters to God, sitting at adoration, and receiving the Eucharist. Though at times, I may be like doubting Thomas, I pray an increase of faith to believe without seeing. I pray to fully live my life with Him,

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