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'And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ -Jesus
At the rocky age of sixteen, this fallen-away son of the Church encountered Jesus Christ through the radical witness of a non-Catholic ‘born again Christian’ who saw the trajectory of my life leading me to hell. In my wholehearted surrender to the Lordship of Christ, the Holy Spirit renewed in me the baptismal graces I had received as an infant and I began to follow Christ again, but no longer as part of the Catholic Church. From that moment on, I knew there was so much more!
Desiring more of Jesus drove me to daily immersion in the Scriptures, especially the Acts of the Apostles where the early Church drew me into its dynamic narrative of the power of the Holy Spirit, mission, and miracles. There was so much more out there than what I was experiencing in my day-to-day existence! I persistently pursued the Holy Spirit in prayer to the point of holy discontent, asking him to fill me. He answered powerfully, and His rivers of living water swept me into an intense life of prayer, holiness, and the mission of proclaiming the Gospel around the world. I saw firsthand God’s power at work in the lives of those who believed the Gospel. Seeing Jesus in the eyes of someone who had just encountered him for the first time became my driving passion. Even here, the Spirit called me closer with his gentle whisper: There is more.
As my family grew, so grew my hunger for more of Jesus. Family life melded with ministry life as we prepared to give the greatest ‘yes’ of our lives to serve as missionaries to a Muslim country together. Simultaneously, our hearts were drawn to Jesus’ priestly prayer in John 17, ‘that they may all be one…’
During that season, this hunger for greater union with Christ and His Church collided with my deeply buried Catholic roots. Shoots of green pushed through the soil of my heart as my missionary life stumbled into Holy Mother Church in various ways through the witness of faithful Catholics, cracking open the Catechism and not being able to put it down, and long forgotten prayers resurfacing in the secret places of my heart.
Compelled to visit my baptismal parish for the first time in decades, I was hit with an awkward yet familiar sense of ‘home.’ Like the gravitational pull of the earth, the Mass drew me back again and again to its center: Christ himself.
One evening during the consecration, my gaze shifted from the elevated host to the crucifix and back again as these Scriptures raced through my mind: ‘Take, eat, this is my body. Drink, all of you…This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (Mt 26:26-29). ‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?’ (1 Cor 10:16-17).
In this moment, Jesus removed the remaining scales from my eyes and clearly revealed himself to me. In the breaking of the bread, I saw him lifted high, inviting me into more of himself and I knew there was only one appropriate response. Out of sheer love and true surrender, I must yet again leave all to follow him.
My family would later meet Jesus in the Eucharist as well. We would go through the pain of leaving behind our much-loved faith community, a ministry salary and parsonage, our missionary plans, family members and friends who did not yet understand what Jesus was doing in our lives; not because we were dissatisfied, but because we had discovered this ‘pearl of great price’ again.
This Jesus always was, always is, and always will be worth leaving all to follow. This Jesus invites us to decrease so He may increase in our lives. This Jesus is able to satisfy the deepest longings of every heart. This Jesus lifted high in the Holy Eucharist continues to draw my longing heart deeper into him with the ever-growing sense that even here in the midst of the Sacraments and in my day-to-day life as a joyful missionary disciple within the Catholic Church—there is more.
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.