A principle element in invitation and attendance at the retreat is a personal relationship with Jesus. As Catholics, we find ourselves living out our faith within an institutional framework. So referring to a personal relationship with Jesus may seem a little odd because we don’t always hear that phrase. But if we look more closely at what the Scripture stories reveal and what the lives of all the Saints reveal: it is all about a personal relationship with God.
The Incarnation–God enters human nature through a particular family, place and time in history. He lived within a particular culture with its own mores and music, customs and beliefs about creation, life, poetry, philosophy, medicine, agriculture and science. Jesus had the same things that we all do. Jesus came to teach and reveal the truth about God and the human person, yes! But he also came to EMBRACE what it is to be human in each one of us–in a personal particular way!
For most people to be in the presence of the Lord can be a little intimidating. We are very aware of our shortcomings, failures, faults and sins. When we come on a retreat, this awareness may feel heightened. We may feel unworthy or unlovable. But here is the point of the personal relationship: Jesus already chooses us personally. He knows us intimately and loves us with our faults, weaknesses, imperfections and sins. Jesus embraces our humanity with all it has in it. He doesn’t want an institutionalized relationship–as if he is the corporate head and we are of no personal interest to him. No, He wants a very personal relationship with us.
Think about it: If you meet a person you really enjoy and really connect with, you choose to open up and become friends. You make plans to spend time together, you go places and do things together. Your friendship and trust grow into love and appreciation for each other even while being aware of “human characteristics” that you are willing to tolerate because you love them and enjoy them so much. You WANT that person to be in your life and they want you in their life! There is no fear or embarrassment about yourself because they accept you and you accept them. This is a good beginning for understanding the relationship Jesus wants with us.
Strengthen your relationship with Jesus. Come to the retreat and share it with others.
Blessings to you!+++
Fr. Peter O’Brien