Advent Reflection Series #2

Have you ever met Jesus?

Usually, I don’t like questions like this because I am reminded of the overzealous kids in the Campus Crusade for Christ back when I was in college. They’d approach you randomly while you were eating dinner in the dining hall by yourself and not wanting to be bothered, and they’d ask questions like, “Is Jesus Christ your personal Lord and Savior?” “Have you ever met Jesus?” “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” At the time, I didn’t know enough about being Catholic to try and turn the tables on them and respond in a Catholic way like, “Yes, I’ve met him. I encounter his True Presence every Sunday in the Body and Blood of Christ.”

If someone were to ask me one of those questions now, that’s exactly how I would answer. The Eucharist is a personal thing—actually, it’s as personal as you can get. Who else can say that they have encountered the risen Christ through his very real Body and Blood? Christ, King of the Universe, deigns to come down to earth every time there is a Mass and to dwell in our weak human bodies.

However, I think when Protestants refer to a “personal relationship” with Jesus, they mean praying to Jesus in one’s own words. I do agree that this aspect of the personal relationship is important. You can say all the rote prayers you want to, and pray the Rosary, and go to daily Mass, but if you don’t pray in your own words and really talk to Jesus, you’re missing something. The “personal” relationship is not there. Prayer is a personal thing. Many devotional practices can seem empty if you don’t talk to Jesus like a friend and let him know what is really in your heart.