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Father Muench Says...

Establishing a relationship with the Lord

Sept. 7, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I remember the first day of the school year way back when I was a little kid. As I remember, everything seemed new and different. I also remember I was always getting something mixed up. I remember one year on the first day of a school year, I ended up in the wrong classroom, the wrong grade. I didn’t want to cause any trouble, so I just quietly sat through the period.

I also remember many first days of the school year when I was a teacher. Each first day brought in a whole new group of students. Then began the task of getting to know each other during the first week.

Recently, the Gospel readings at the daily Masses describe for us the early days of Jesus’ ministry. We might say these stories are about his first days of ministry. These were his first days as a teacher. As I read these Gospel stories again, I am so impressed at how the people were attracted to follow Jesus. We are told that those people were drawn to Jesus because he taught with authority. I wonder sometimes if I teach with authority.

Just as those people discovered Jesus and his message, I know that we are challenged each day to find Jesus. Sometimes I believe that I have already found Jesus. I have prayed and participated at Mass for many years. However, I want to say to you that there is so much more we must discover new about the Lord, so much more for us to learn. We must never be satisfied that we know all there is to know about Jesus. I believe that we all need a lifetime to form well our understanding of and relationship with the Lord.

As we establish our relationship with the Lord, the first step for you and I is the realization that a most important part of our prayer is that we must listen. The words of prayer are important, but we must also listen. You see, I believe Jesus always has a new and important message for each of us now, a new message for today.

St. Paul has written that we must listen with the ears of our heart. This may sound curious, yet it is so important. The Lord wants to reach is not just with a message that is intellectual. Rather he wants us to discover his message of love and true dedication to all that the Lord challenges us with. That may take time to recognize. This truly takes a lifetime.

In those early years, Jesus also realized that he must do something for his followers. He realized that many were suffering from demons, demons that kept them from discovering his message and discovering the importance of God. So, with power he drove out those demons that the individuals would be open and accepting of the Lord’s words.

Even today the Lord knows that his followers continue to suffer from demons, demons that block us from recognizing God’s presence in our lives and how to accept our God, how to realize what the Lord expects of us. We must turn often to Our Savior to remove those demons from us, just as he did in those Gospel times for those people as we read about.

Finally, Jesus began his ministry by teaching us and his early followers about God. He teaches us to begin our prayer by saying, “Our Father.” God wants to be our Father. God wants us to call him “Abba.” God wants to come to us in love and care. Our God is not that God of the Old Testament; our God is not the God of lightning on the mountain. Our God wants to establish a relationship with us like a loving and caring Father.

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