What does it mean to have a personal "encounter" with God? How can we be open to this experience? How does it affect us?
Encounter is born from our spiritual hunger for a relationship with God. We need to feel our innate need to be in relationship with the Infinite Mystery. "From the time of our conception, we are called to communion with God. The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 27).
As we go through our lives, seeking the presence of the Infinite, God is constantly seeking our love. "God's initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2567). This dramatic call and response between the humanity of man and the love of God is what we call encounter.
The people that were following Jesus and the Apostles in today's gospel reading were really hungry for the Divine. They felt their deeply human need for God, and they got a foretaste of Jesus' divinity as He traveled the area, healing the sick and curing diseases. They would not let Jesus out of their sight, so that "when (Jesus) disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34).
Another quality of encounter is that it inspires us to share that discovery with others. The people that Jesus healed in his ministry shared their experiences with those who were searching for meaning in their own lives. This type of personal testimony concerning the power of Jesus led to the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, which we will hear next week in the Gospel reading of John 6:1-15.
Are you hungry for a personal encounter with Jesus in your life? God is seeking you; come and sit at His feet and be filled with His presence.BACK TO LIST