|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knowing and Experiencing Are Different
If you asked someone who lived near the equator if they know anything about snow, some will have read about it in a book and understood what it looks like, maybe they have even seen lots of pictures of it; they understand how it comes about, but have never actually seen or experienced the snow. Some people who even live here have not experienced snow!
Once we have experienced snow and seen it fall gently from the skies and how it transforms the creation, then there is a different sort of knowledge. A tree covered in snow is just magical! There is no way a picture can encapsulate that experience. Maybe we have walked in it at night and heard that crunchy sound the snow makes; maybe we have driven in it under treacherous conditions. There is no accounting for the experience over reading about it. Head knowledge is good but it is limited. Experiencing snow is deeper knowledge.
Every Sunday we come to Eucharist we come to experience Christ in reality. We listen to scripture and we come to know God in the word spoken. We break it open and it expands our minds; we understand how God works in our life. We also come to receive Jesus Christ in the body and blood and so we come to experience Him in our hearts. We do this each and every Sunday.
In today’s first reading, we are called to make that choice of Jesus as our foundation or cornerstone. We deliberately come to follow Christ and make him central in our life, the foundation of everything we do. In the second reading, John speaks of that, we are God’s children now. It is something that we can experience in the here and now.
We do not know what is going to happen in the future but now that we are God’s children, we come to experience God’s love for us. God loves us as a parent loves their child. And to go further, we hear Jesus speaking about himself as the Good Shepherd, who will lay down his life for us. We come to experience that is what God does for us in Christ. Christ lays down his life for us. He does that by choice. He says, “I do it on my own. Nobody has forced me to do it. I do this of my own.”
These weeks in many parishes, boys and girls will receive their Communion for the first time, they are going to come to experience Christ anew in a very different and in a very powerful way. We also promise to become what we receive. We promise to become the Christ to others so others can experience Christ firsthand. We are called to lay down our lives for one another; to make a difference in the lives of those around us. We choose to be Christ to one another.