Jul 26, 2019 810 0 Jenson Joseph

Meeting Jesus— Is Life-changing!

Want a Transformation in Life? Saint Andrew and Saint John are here to Show you How!

It is a truth that the love of God meets you where you are; no matter what the situation, the love of God meets you in your mess, in your disasters, crisis, chaos, in all your troubles and sad circumstances. In the Gospel, we find people meeting Jesus and see how greatly their lives are transformed! I would like to reflect on two great saints who became apostles of Jesus and how Jesus and Mary transformed their lives.

Saint Andrew with Jesus

A few months ago, while reading some of the passages in the Gospel of John where Andrew appears, I reflected on the question of how knowing Jesus can change our lives.

Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. On hearing his master proclaim the gospel “Behold, the Lamb of God” and pointing to Jesus as He walked by, both Andrew and John got up and followed Him. When Jesus turned and saw them following, He asked, “What are you looking for?”They did not know how to respond because they were not sure themselves, and so they asked another question, “Rabbi, where are You staying?” Jesus invited them to come and see. The Gospel states that they said “Yes” to the invitation and stayed with Jesus that day. Even the time of day is noted in the Gospel of John, signifying that this time spent with Jesus was indeed one of transformation for both Andrew and John. They were not perfect at this point, but something changed in them.

The key statement that spoke to my heart was when Andrew first found his own brother Simon and told him the good news. “We have found the Messiah,” he said.What also came to mind were the words of Saint Paul to the jailor in Acts 16:31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus andyou and your household will be saved.” The promise of God is that believing and surrendering my life daily under the lordship of Jesus Christ will save my life and that of my family from eternal death. Did Andrew know this promise or was God leading him?

Life-Saving Action

Andrew’s first reaction was to find his own family, his own brother, proclaim the good news to him, then bring him to Jesus. The first lesson Andrew teaches us is that in our individual role as husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister or even as a close friend, our primary duty in knowing Jesus is to present Him to our inner circle, our own family or in some cases, very close friends and to bring them to Jesus.

He teaches us that in today’s modern society, the salvation of the family or your inner circle is still God’s number-one priority. First, we need to embrace the discipline of spending time with Jesus as Andrew did, not for His sake but for ours, so we are transformed on the inside. We have to intentionally grow in this discipline. We may not become perfect as long as we live, but at the least we are a work in progress on the journey to perfection. We become a tragedy to our families and society if we simply remain as raw material.

Second, Andrew teaches us to work for the salvation of our families or close friends. The reality is that family or very close friendships can be the place where you are loved the most but also where you are let down the most because of brokenness. Whether I am loved or let down in my own family or close friendship setting, I am not excused from working for the salvation of myself. I cannot ignore the salvation of my family or close friendships.

Another place where Andrew is mentioned in the Gospel of John is at the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus Himself knew what He was going to do, but to test His disciples, He asked how to buy enough food for the crowd to eat. It was Andrew who called attention or brought before Jesus the boy with five barley loaves and two fish. Even as he did this, he most likely questioned how a tiny portion could satisfy the entire crowd.

An Act of Trust

Oftentimes, we can look at the messiness of our own lives and become dejected with the reality that we can never be an instrument of God to lead our families or close friends to Him. Rather than becoming a blessing to our families or close friends, we often become a snare. It is in these circumstances where Divine Mercy, who is Jesus, meets the broken me and says, “I desire to transform the broken, imperfect, raw material of your life into a Eucharist, so that you become a blessing for your own family, close friends and others. Will you trust Me enough to surrender your broken self to me?” Andrew knew the impossibility in the proposal of Jesus. We know the intensity of our own misery and wonder if anything good could come out of us.

In his heart, Andrew questions the wisdom in the plan of Jesus. We often do the same. Despite Andrew’s struggle to find the logic in the proposal of Jesus, he trusted that his master could do something wonderful with the little he had to offer. He cannot explain how, but he trusted because he knew what he felt deep inside his heart when he spent that day with Jesus. Andrew teaches us to make an act of trusting surrender in each Eucharistic celebration and daily prayer time.

Give into the hands of Jesus the messiness of your life. Do not be content with allowing the raw material of our lives to remain as such, but surrender it to Jesus. Jesus takes the brokenness of our lives and raises it up not to humiliate us in front of others, but to ask the blessing of the heavenly Father upon the most imperfect gift we surrender.

After the blessing—which is the infilling of the Holy Spirit—we are distributed to our families and close friends. They are filled with joy because as I am distributed, it is no longer I they see, but Jesus, who dwells in me. Even after they surrender their lives to Christ, I am not exhausted of grace, but the spring of living waters continues to flow out from me. In fact, there is a huge abundance of grace. Thank you, dear Jesus, for the lessons you teach us through the life of Saint Andrew.

Saint John with Mother Mary

One of the hidden yet powerful lessons of the Gospels is that the time spent with Mother Mary is indeed the time spent training in virtue. This lesson is unfolded for us when we examine the transformation that took place in the beloved disciple John at the empty tomb.

Upon the report from Mary of Magdalene, both Peter and John ran to the tomb, but John reached it first. The Bible says John did not go in, but rather waited for Simon Peter to get there and go in first. Then John followed. I used to wonder why the Bible highlighted this specific act because it seemed so insignificant. My doubts were cleared by a priest who explained the reason behind this during his homily. At the foot of the cross after Jesus had entrusted his mother into the care of John, from that hour the disciple took Mary into his home.

John got to spend the entire day (Holy Saturday) with Mother Mary. During that time, John must have laid his head on her lap, because John had a habit of reclining at Jesus’ side when he was with Him. As Mother Mary stroked his hair, she must have reminded John that Jesus used to do the same thing. At that moment, however, there was a gap in virtue between the two. Why was John lacking in virtue?

Finding the Pitfalls

In the Gospel of Luke, it states that Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem, and they were going to pass through a Samaritan village, but the villagers did not welcome Him. Then James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the people. Jesus turns and rebukes them. This incident shows that John was hot-tempered. He was easily prone to anger and revenge. While lying on Mary’s lap, John was reminded of his lack of virtue and surrendered this area of his heart into the hands of Mary.

In the Gospel of Mathew, the mother of John and James approach Jesus asking Him to command that in His kingdom, her sons would sit on His right and left. This showed that John desired a place of honor and lacked the virtue of humility. He probably also harbored a grudge in his heart toward Peter who was appointed as head of the Church when Jesus said, “You are rock and upon this rock I will build My church.”

From the Lap of Mary

While spending Holy Saturday with Mother Mary, John was reminded of his desire to be served rather than to serve. It was a powerful retreat for John to be in the presence of Mother Mary, one that totally transformed him. How do we know he was transformed?

When he writes the Gospel of John, he does not name himself but refers to himself as the other disciple or the one whom Jesus loved, showing the virtue of humility. Similarly, when Peter and John arrived at the empty tomb, although John arrived first, he did not go in but rather waited for Peter to do so first. This act showed that he accepted the authority of Peter and no longer desired the seat of honor.

In spending time with Mother Mary, John embraced the desire to serve rather than be served. I believe Saint John Paul II stated once that the aspect of Mary that gets neglected the most is meditation on her virtues. In other words, as a Catholic I am not spending enough time with Mary training in virtue.

Growing in Virtue

Dear Mother Mary, help us to spend time with you as John did, that we also may become more like Jesus, so that in us virtue will shine and vice disappear. I feel it is no accident that the Bible does not mention the name Mother Mary or Mary mother of Jesus after Acts 1. While there are references to Mary in Revelation, the term Mary the Mother of Jesus is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible after Acts 1. It is as if Mary chose to remain in the upper room, in the room of prayer and silence, waiting for us to enter and train with her in virtue.

Training in virtue is a lifelong process, and to do it effectively involves a lot of dying to self, renewing our thought process and attitudes, and evaluating our convictions and ideas in the presence of one who is full of grace. By remaining in the room of silence, Mary reminds us that this training does not have to be done alone—she is there to guide us so our transformation and progress is according to the will of God and so we will bear abundant fruit and glorify God.

Dear Jesus and Mary, we thank you for the lessons given to us through Saint Andrew and Saint John. Truly we accept our weaknesses and failures; we surrender ourselves into your hands. Help us to spend time with you so we may grow more and more in virtues and be transformed in Spirit. Amen.

Jenson Joseph

© Jenson Joseph has been part of Shalom Media as a speaker at the Shalom Conferences. He is featured in Shalom World’s weekly series “The Living Word". Jenson lives with his family in Michigan, USA. Watch his series at https://www.shalomworldtv.org/thelivingword


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