Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read John 1:29-35
We lingered, the car still running in our driveway, as I recounted to my husband and two youngest children the details of a recent trip I had taken to speak to a gathering of Walking with Purpose women in Charlotte, North Carolina. I described the joy of one woman rushing up to me after my talk, saying her heart had been transformed when she had an overwhelming realization of God’s love for her.
“My prayer every time I take the podium,” I told my family, “is that women will have a personal encounter with Jesus. Because for me, that changed everything.”
Our middle school age son spoke up from the back of the vehicle. “Mama, YOU’VE had an encounter with Jesus in your lifetime? When?”
Chills cascaded down my arms. As any speaker who has the privilege of serving in ministry knows, it can sometimes feel easier to share our stories on the road with large audiences than with the people in our own homes. Surely my only son knew parts of my testimony well! I turned to face him and nodded my head, my smile big.
“Can you tell us about it?” He nudged his eight-year-old sister. “Right now? We want to hear!”
For the next half hour, as we sat in our driveway, I passionately told our younger children about how Jesus had rescued me from my sin and invited me into a sacred, intimate friendship with Him. I described in detail how Jesus had personally revealed His love to me, convincing me that my soul could only be truly satisfied in a relationship with Him. My husband shared parts of his story, too. Our kids were mesmerized by our testimonies.
Then I turned to our son, “Have you ever had an encounter with Jesus?”
He surprised me when his blue eyes welled up with emotion: “Just recently, on the altar, when I was serving during Mass. I didn’t know if I made it up or if it was all in my head until you shared your stories today, but I was overwhelmed with the presence of Jesus when the Eucharist was consecrated. I could feel the power of God. I could feel His love for me.”
Tears stung my cheeks as I joyfully leaped out of the car and raced to my boy. Grabbing him tight, we embraced, and I prayed over him, thanking God for what He was doing in my son’s life.
In this Sunday’s gospel reading, John the Baptist sees Jesus approaching when he proclaims that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), the very words spoken at Catholic Mass during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In this passage, John reminds his followers that he is an eyewitness to the power of the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove and that Jesus ranks ahead of him. John’s message and mission are crystal clear: to make Jesus known (John 1:31). John ends the passage, reiterating his assignment, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God” (John 1:34).
When we personally encounter Jesus, it moves us to testify. Psalm 66:16 says, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.”
Each moment of our life is an opportunity to have an encounter with Jesus, an invitation to experience His abundant love for us. Encountering God may occur on a mountaintop (like Moses), but often God speaks to our hearts during the ordinary moments, while we are scrubbing dishes or taking a quiet walk outside. It begins with a desire, a hunger to know God more. An encounter with God often comes when we quiet the noise around us and open our hearts, which the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “the place of encounter” because only “the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully.”
When we experience God’s unconditional love, we are moved to share the gift of God’s love with others. Lisa Brenninkmeyer writes that as God’s witnesses, “We evangelize best when we tell people about our own, personal encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.” This looks different for each of us because every encounter is personal and unique.
“Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus,” said Pope Francis.
Starting today, you can pause and ask Jesus to make Himself known to you personally. The Catechism tells us, “Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.” You can pray, inviting God to reveal His abundant love for you. And once He does, WWP would love to hear your story because an encounter with Jesus is so impactful, meaningful, and powerful that we need to testify! Share your testimony with us here.
Food for thought or journaling:
How has Jesus affected your life personally? Have you had an encounter with our risen Lord? Do you know how much He cherishes you?
Lord, I want to personally encounter You, but I am scared. Can You make Yourself known to me? Can You reveal Yourself to me so that I can better grasp how much You love me? Jesus, help me take notice of Your presence in my life and once I do, give me the courage to testify of Your great, unconditional love. Amen.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2012), Prayer as Covenant. #2563, 614.
 Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Ordering Your Priorities: Building a Life Well Lived (Printed in The United States of America, Walking With Purpose Inc., 2021), 147
 Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel (Erlanger, KY: Dynamic Catholic Institute, 2014), 97.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2012), Prayer as God’s Gift. #2560, 614.