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Let Christ Be Your Beloved and Love You

First Reading: Acts 11:1-18

The Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea
heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God.
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem
the circumcised believers confronted him, saying,
‘You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them.”
Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying,
“I was at prayer in the city of Joppa
when in a trance I had a vision,
something resembling a large sheet coming down,
lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me.
Looking intently into it,
I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth,
the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky.
I also heard a voice say to me, ‘Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.’
But I said, ‘Certainly not, sir,
because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
But a second time a voice from heaven answered,
‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’
This happened three times,
and then everything was drawn up again into the sky.
Just then three men appeared at the house where we were,
who had been sent to me from Caesarea.
The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating.
These six brothers also went with me,
and we entered the man’s house.
He related to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying,
‘Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter,
who will speak words to you
by which you and all your household will be saved.’
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them
as it had upon us at the beginning,
and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said,
‘John baptized with water
but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us
when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
who was I to be able to hinder God?”
When they heard this,
they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying,
“God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3, 4

R. (see 3a) Athirst is my soul for the living God.
As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
Then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.

Gospel: John 10:1-10

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

NAB

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Athirst is my soul for the living God. Writes the Psalmist. Christ is the gate. Says the Gospel. He comes so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

Call me your typical cradle Catholic. Christ is my brother; Christ is my savior. I don’t consider Him my Beloved, my source of more abundant life. I don’t thirst for Him. He’s there in the Eucharist and I politely, lovingly, even fervently, receive Him.

At the Blessed is She’s first annual Lenten retreat for women Beauty for Ashes in February, my view on Christ changed irrevocably and drastically. I had approached the weekend retreat in Arizona as a time for me to connect with my fellow BiS sisters (and finally meet Jenna!!), work hard at ensuring all the ladies felt welcomed and their babies bounced while they ate lunch or enjoyed a talk, their coffee cups refilled and their plates cleared. I was there to bustle about and facilitate.

Praise and worship? Not my jam; a lovely jam, but not mine. I’d be the one passing out tissue for anyone moved by the Spirit, but I was going to be too busy emptying the garbage to sniffle and feel a stirring myself.

Nothing like a dose of pride and compelling worship music, heart-rending talks and speakers who asked me What was Christ saying to you in your heart? to get this Minnesota nice facade to crack open.

My surprising (to me most of all!) response to my friend’s question was that He wants me to let Him love me. My response to the Eucharistic Procession and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament was akin to a lover viewing her beloved for the first, real, time. My wordless prayer poured out of me in my unending stream of tears in the dark, dimly twinkly lit hall. Yes, when the wonderful priest solemnly and slowly walked my Beloved about the room so that each of us women could touch the mantle he held the monstrance with, I clutched it for dearest life, for it held the dearest Life.

After the buzz settled down and I was back in the cry room with another friend’s baby on my shoulder, I couldn’t suppress my smile, my delight from the inside out. That Living God who will fulfill me in all the ways my other relationships cannot, in the way even my amazing spouse cannot? He was giving me a sense of that abundant life.

If you’re not typically the “feeling” type of gal when it comes to the Eucharist, consider making this relationship with Christ as your Beloved Lover a priority. Attend a retreat; engross yourself in adoration; find a way to let Him love you.

photo credit

Nell O’Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to three lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.

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