How much time does it take to really know a person, to truly develop a deep, lasting relationship with that individual?
Can that happen after a single meeting, or does it take several encounters or even more? Can it happen after a few weeks or months, or might it take several years?
Getting to know a person and developing a true bond of friendship and love is a process that requires time and attention. We never know someone completely. Even people we have known for years can do or say something we never expected or reveal something surprising about themselves.
If that is true of the people in our lives, it is even more true when it comes to Jesus, our Savior and Lord. A relationship with the Lord is something that takes time to develop and grow. We usually do not have a “Damascus experience” like Saint Paul in which the Lord suddenly reveals himself to us in a blinding moment of enlightenment.
We come to know the Lord just as we come to know the people who hold a special place in our hearts. We come to know the Lord over time.
We see that happening in this Sunday’s Gospel (John 1:29-34). There we hear how John the Baptist came to a deeper understanding of Jesus.
John obviously had already known Jesus. They were just six months apart in age and their families were related. Yet when John was baptizing at the Jordan River, he came to a deeper understanding of Jesus. He came to know him as “the Lamb of God” and as the “Son of God,” as he saw the Spirit come down upon Jesus like a dove.
But that process of John’s growing in his understanding of Jesus did not end there. In the Gospel of Matthew, we learn how later in his life John sent his disciples to Jesus to confirm that Jesus truly was the one whose coming John had predicted.
Just as John had to grow in his understanding of Jesus and in his relationship with him, so do we.
At this point in the liturgical year of 2020, we enter the Season of Ordinary Time. In its Gospels, we will learn of the ministry of Jesus, we will hear him proclaim the coming of God’s Kingdom and we will see him interacting with the poor and powerless, and the rich and powerful.
While we can let our attention drift elsewhere since we have heard those Gospel readings many times before, we would be missing an opportunity to grow in our understanding of Jesus and in our relationship with him.
Each time we hear the Gospel proclaimed, Jesus speaks to us. Each time we reflect with others on God’s Word, Jesus opens our minds. Each time we celebrate a sacrament, the Lord touches our lives. Each of those moments provide another opportunity for us to grow in our relationship with the Lord.
We might say that as we faithfully progress through the liturgical year, we progressively grow in our understanding of Jesus and our relationship with him.
Like all relationships, a relationship with the Lord requires our ongoing effort, time, and attention.
© 2020 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski