“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.’” – John 6:35
This past weekend a small group of our youth had the incredible opportunity to encounter Christ at the John 6:35 Retreat in Raleigh. In addition to the incredible speakers, prayer, praise and worship, and fellowship, we had the amazing opportunity to enjoy all of this in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The weekend began with the rosary and mass with our own Fr. Michael. Fr. Michael reminded us that no matter what we “feel” over the weekend, the Holy Spirit is sowing seeds in our heart. There is no doubt that each of us left the weekend revived and renewed, our hearts ablaze with the Father’s love.
The final talk was about Mary the Evangelist. It reminded me of the theme for our youth group this year: Mary the Model – Christ the Center. Through her example, Mary teaches us how to be a disciple of Christ. She also shows us what it means to be an evangelist. Deacon Ian began his final talk by sharing Luke 1: 39-56 in which Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth. He said that Mary is modeling evangelization because she is bringing Christ to others. “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’” (Luke 1:41-42). Deacon Ian reminded us that evangelization begins with “an encounter with Christ.” From there, we can share ideas and doctrine, but first we must share Christ.
I couldn’t help but think that is exactly what John 6:35 has to offer. At John 6:35 we encounter Christ. Fortunately for us, we have this opportunity always available to us through our Catholic faith. Each time we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we are encountering Christ in the most incredible way. Always present in the tabernacle, we have the opportunity to sit and pray in the presence of God! And on Fridays we can take part in Adoration. I am always blown away by the atmosphere of the room during Adoration. There is no doubt that our Lord’s presence envelops the room and our hearts.
We are so fortunate that a number of our youth were able to encounter Christ at the retreat this weekend. Now it is time to take Christ out into the world. Just as we receive Him in the Eucharist and then are sent forth, now is the time for us to take this encounter and share it with others so they too can experience the JOY of knowing Christ.