The Man who missed out on the Jesus experience
As many of you will know I have just returned from Holiday visiting my brother in Spain. May I begin by thanking you for your prayers and support during my time away. I have enjoyed immensely the experience of Spain, it's people customs and culture. For those who have visited Spain you will know the Spanish experience, warm sunshine, paella and Rioja wine, smiling and happy Spanish faces, full Catholic Churches in good voice and very little rain! To gain this experience you have to leave this country and soak in the atmosphere of a different culture. Without visiting Spain you will not fully understand the Spanish experience. Do you know what I mean?
Well today's Gospel is about the man who missed out on the Jesus experience because he was not prepared to leave his wealth and follow the Lord. He missed the opportunity to receive what money cannot buy and the future of eternal peace and happiness. He was given an invitation to experience Jesus in a special way, to live with him, have a close relationship with him, to listen, enjoy and marvel at the unique personality of Jesus, the Son of God. He came searching for a deeper experience of God and missed out because he couldn't let go of his material possessions. If he had let go he would have had a life changing experience and discovered everything he was searching for. This man's choice mirrors the choices of many today who struggle for meaning in their lives and surprisingly these people are many of those who attend Church regularly let alone those who have given up going to Church. What do I mean? Well according to recent statistics only 60 percent of Catholics believe in a personal God and many of these have not had a personal experience of Jesus. Many of these believers know something of Jesus but have not experienced personally his love or understand the full story of who he is and what his true message is. In recent times the Church has been examining its role and recognising it's essential task to provide people with the Jesus experience. The primary aim of Proclaim launched by the Bishops of England and Wales is to provide parishes with an encounter with Jesus. One of the first steps to the Jesus experience is to help people let go of their material securities and trust God to be their number one possession. The Jesus experience is a discovery of a loving Father God who will never stop providing for us and will continue to love us for all eternity. No amount of material possessions can give us this kind of security. This begins when we invite him into our lives. For so many, like the man in the Gospels, it would seem they miss out on the real experience of a living and loving God. The big question of today's Gospel is are we missing out and are we ready to do something about it?
This Gospel offers us the invitation of Jesus to find our true security. If we haven't had the Jesus encounter we can desire it today. If we need to know God personally all we need to do is ask Jesus, "Lord Jesus show me what I need to let go of in order to experience for myself what a true believer is? I want to be your disciple a true follower, show me how to do this. In the next few months the Proclaim project will be helping parishes to form intentional disciples, people whose passion for God comes from the Jesus experience. Let this gospel some a seed in you to take part and look out for further details. If I have experienced Jesus but my relationship has grown cold this Gospel provides me with the opportunity to ignite my relationship with Jesus, by saying "Lord Jesus call me again to leave behind all that hinders me from you, make me passionate again for your presence". Have confidence that he will. Take time to rebuild your relationship, now and in the days ahead.
Know that as I have just returned refreshed from the Spanish experience so you too can be refreshed with a new encounter with Jesus. Let's take few moments together to ponder this Gospel in silence.