5 Ways to have a Practical Encounter with God.Sunday Breakfast with the word 16th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C
Genesis 18:1-10 , Colossians 1:24-28, Luke 10:38-42
5 Ways to have a Practical Encounter God
After taking time to meditate on today’s readings, I deem it pertinent to choose this topic. In the first reading we saw how Abraham encountered God through his life of hospitality.
In the gospel, Jesus tells Martha that though this hospitality is fine and okay, but one thing that is very and extremely necessary is listening to the word of God and being with Jesus. Therefore, these readings summed up the practical ways we can encounter God which we will gradually digest through these readings.
‘There are so many times we feel this hunger to have a divine encounter or to have a divine experience with God. Sometimes, we feel we need to have some more. We feel we need more of Jesus, we need more of God. There are also times it seems God is so far from us. These readings offer us the most practical ways to have a divine encounter.
There are five practical ways we can have an encounter with God. Or I can say, there are five practical ways we can experience a divine encounter or encounter God’s presence. We shall take them bit by bit. Before we proceed, let us analyze the readings.
The Encounter with Jesus
When Jesus came to Bethany, although Luke does not tell us the name of the town. He only told us that Jesus went to a village. But we know from other gospels that Mary and Martha are from Bethany.
It is also good to note here that this particular Mary is not Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene is from Magdala while Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, is from Bethany. So, it is this Mary from Bethany that encountered Jesus today.
So, when Jesus entered their house, Luke tells us that Martha welcomed Jesus into her house. Luke did not tell us that Mary did. But Luke Immediately tells us that Martha had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the feet of Jesus and listened to Jesus speaking.
Luke now proceeds to tell us that Martha, distracted with all the serving. Then She complained to Jesus and asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her.’ But instead of that Jesus tells Martha,not to worry and fret about so many things, and indeed only one is needed and Mary has chosen the better part.
From, this we can succinctly say that some practical ways to have an encounter with God are:
1. Learn to Spend time With God.
About spending time with God, Mother Teresa of Calcutta says “Spend one hour each day in adoration of your Lord, and never do anything you know is wrong. Follow this and you will never regret it”. The first virtue we must recognise today in Mary and Martha’s encounter with Jesus is that Mary was busy Spending time with Jesus.
Remember that the issue is not in the hospitality , but the issue is that Martha was distracted. This is what Luke tries to let us know about. While Martha is distracted with material things, Mary chose to spend time with Jesus. When we learn how to spend time with God, we will never regret it.
One of the ways we can have a practical encounter with God is to learn how to spend time with Him.Check the lives of many saints, one of the few practical virtues we can learn from them is that they spend quality time with God. The word to be means to remain somewhere or to remain with somebody. It also means to abide, to stay.
Then in John 15:4, Jesus says “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me”. Then in verse 5, Jesus says “I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing”.
Then in verse 7, it says “if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”. This is exactly what Mary did today. This is what God wants from us. He needs us to spend quality time with Him. He needs more of you. To have a practical encounter with God, learn to spend quality time with Him. No One does that and regrets and neither will you regret such a decision.
2. Learn to Converse with God.
When Mary was at the feet of Jesus, Luke does not tell us that Mary uttered any single statement. But Luke tells us that Mary was actually listening. But we envisage that Mary may have at least asked some questions that may have needed more clarification from Jesus. Luke only says that Jesus was asking. He did not tell us the content or the topic of their discussion.
The main point here was that Mary was listening with rapt attention. Therefore, It is logical that there must still be a conversation in between. Therefore, one of the practical ways to encounter God is to learn how to converse and talk with Him. Who knows, “it could still be Mary who started the conversation with a question.
Jesus cannot just see Mary and began to talk about something which may not be related to Mary. We envisage a friendly encounter and conversation. Therefore one of the oratorical ways to encounter God is to learn how to talk or converse with God.
In this discussion, you will pour out your whole self. You will pour out your life and open up to Jesus. It is this conversation that will let him know the mistakes we have made. It is this conversation that we shall appreciate His love for us. Let us learn how to converse with God.
3. Always Listen
The injunction that was given to us directly from God the Father during the transfiguration is just two words , which is “Listen to Him’’. The injunction that was given to us during the earthly life of Jesus by His mother is also very simple. The Blessed Virgin Mary said “Do whatever He tells You”, these injunctions remind of the need to listen to Jesus and do whatever He says. In today’s encounter, Mary chose to listen to Jesus rather than to listen to the world.
Jesus says that this is one thing that is necessary. We have to pay attention to Him. We have to listen to Jesus. To do this we need to have a quiet time to meditate on His word. The more we pay attention to Jesus the more we learn, the more we increase in wisdom and knowledge. It is the more we know the secrets of the Kingdom of God. We have to listen. In fact the more we listen to Jesus the more you will hear and understand Him.
If you want to hear anyone MORE, you must listen to them more. You can encounter God when you decide to listen to HIM. Jesus says that it is the most necessary. That means it is very important. So, we have to ask ourselves “when was the last time we truly paid attention to the word of God.
Today, we treat the word of God in disdain and take it as something that is not important in our own time. Sometimes, we do not even have time for it. The word of God is the secret of wisdom and the eternal life. It is a light to souls who wander in darkness. We need to listen to His word always.
4. Do not be distracted by the World
One of the few things we have to note in the gospel is that Jesus did not condemn what Martha was doing. Remember that it was Martha that welcomed Jesus. It was also Martha that was so busy trying to make sure that Jesus was comfortable. In that gospel, we have also to notify that Jesus never condemned the action of Martha,therefore hospitality is not bad.
But Luke first of all points out that Martha was distracted. Then later told us that Jesus acknowledged that Mary had chosen the better part. Therefore, the Luke is trying to let us know that God wants us to be busy with Him rather than being busy with the world. We are distracted by the world. It is the world that will convince you that God is not true.
It is the world that will lead you away from God. It is the world that will affect your life negatively. When we get busy with the world, we must lose focus and eventually lose our relationship with God. To have a practical encounter with God, do not be distracted by the world. Like Mary, let us focus more on God rather focusing our entire energy on the things that cause our downfall. This is the reason many people today are loosing faith entirely.
5. Show Love to the Poor
One surprising thing here is that he immediately ran to them. He didn’t ask them if they are hungry. They also didn’t beg for food, but Abraham knew they must be hungry.
Therefore, he was the one that ran to them, killed the fattest cattle and still waited for them until they are satisfied. What a show of love.
Abraham teaches us to learn how to give, not just giving but giving the best we have to those in need. Abraham also teaches us to be sensitive to the needs of the people around us. Sometimes we pay blind eye to them expecting them to kneel down and beg us before we help.
Sometimes we can also encounter God in the poor or through the little hospitality we show to others. Last Sunday, Jesus praised the good Samaritan because of His hospitality. On the road to Emmaus, the Emmaus disciples showed love to Jesus and He revealed Himself to them through the breaking of Bread, what if they didn’t invite Jesus to be with them?
One of the fastest way to encounter God is in the way we relate with the poor. This is one aspect that most people neglect but the truth is that when we encounter the poor, we encounter God directly. A practical example of how we encounter God through showing love to the poor is by been kind and generous to them and not been hostile to them.
Just like St. John Chrysostom once said, “We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude.” By this, we encounter God practically.
Also, the encounter of Jesus with Mary and Martha in the Gospel of today show us the need to show love to the poor. The visit of Jesus to this family teaches us that Christ do not neglect the poor but love them and value them. After Mary’s conversation with Jesus, she must have been satisfied because Christ gave her the attention she needed. The Love Jesus showed to Mary, made her to experience God in a practical way.
Let us be givers. Let us show hospitality to others, through it we can encounter blessings from God.
Do not give because you want blessings. No.
Give because of who you are, a child of God. Abraham didn’t show hospitality because he wants a child. He gave from His heart and God blesses Him. Let us do the same. We shall encounter Him.
May God bless you dearest and give you the grace to encounter him practically in our daily life. Happy Sunday.