I’ve noticed that my response to students has evolved over the years. Initially I responded by giving intellectual reasons supporting belief in Jesus and the existence of God. This was never that effective because we got lost in complicated intellectual debates. I soon began simplifying my response. I began sharing personal experiences of God’s presence in my life and showing how these encounters with the Lord have enriched my life, especially during times of personal need.
Further I witnessed to a simple truth that is the foundation of my life: I have found true peace and joy in my life to the degree I have lived by the teachings of Jesus -- when I’ve strayed from these teachings I’ve lost that peace and joy. The students are moved by this candor and seem to accept my witness as credible. They are surprised to learn that my faith in Jesus enriches my life rather than restricts it. It gets their attention and gives them something to think about.
Today’s Gospel is helpful in supporting this approach. Jesus gives us his greatest commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Then Jesus reminds his disciples that only by following his commandment of love will they remain in his love and find true peace and joy: “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Matthias, the disciple chosen to fill the vacant place left by the apostle Judas. The Gospel reminds us that Jesus personally chooses his followers, not only the special twelve apostles like Matthias, but also all his followers: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.”
Jesus has chosen us! As we continue to celebrate the Easter Season let’s ask for the grace to rejoice with the Risen Jesus who has given us the greatest gift of our lives-- the gift of faith in Him: ”This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
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