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Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious

My dear encountered couples:

In a few more weeks on a Sunday we will be reading a passage from Matthew where we are told that when Jesus caught sight of Peter and his brother Andrew fishing, he invited them to follow him. He did the same with James and his brother John who at the time were getting ready to fish with their father. “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus told them. And we are told they immediately left family and business to follow him. It wasn’t that they had never met Jesus before.

Today we are told by John himself in his own gospel that they had met Jesus before. “Look, there is the Lamb of God,” John the Baptist told his disciples. Two of them then approached Jesus. They talked with him and stayed with him that day. “One of the two was Peter’s brother Andrew,” we are told. It is assumed the other was John who is telling the story. Andrew then went to get Peter and introduced him to Jesus. This was to be the beginning of a long friendship. The point is: It didn’t happen overnight.

Ours can’t either. Don’t rush your spirituality. Don’t approach your religion and your relationship with Christ like it’s a crash course you need to graduate. For people to get to know one another well and be friends, it takes time, it takes patience. To marry it takes even more time and patience. And a marriage is what our relationship with Christ is in the end meant to be. A lasting marriage requires lots of preparation in order to be able to leave behind old lifestyles and attachments; no one can give up everything at once.

An intimate relationship with Christ requires extraordinary change. This is the job of the Holy Spirit. We must never rush him. The apostles met Christ, and gradually grew in his love. We are in the beginnings of a very long friendship. Let’s try to take it one step at a time.

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