Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. - John 6:26It was 2003. I sat in the pew of what is now my hometown parish (church) in awe of what I just heard. I was a bullet out of a gun & my life was altered from that day forward. This is my testimony.
Let's backtrack a handful of years.
My mom became very ill when I was in the 5th grade (circa 1995). She had, and still suffers from, progressive scoliosis. I grew up on a Christian home - went to Christian elementary school, attended Easter & Christmas services annually. The religion was always in the background but never an active, called upon resource for any joy or agony life could bring. I was taught to be kind to others, love God, be a good person.
When seventh grade came, my mom was still terribly sick. She was bedridden & I was angry. How could a "God" be cruel to let my mother suffer? How could a "God" allow her and my family to see and feel such pain? I decided to disown God. What God? There is no God.
By the time high school started I found myself lonely. It's the kind of lonely that maybe suicidal people feel - because honestly, those thoughts did cross my mind. I (thank goodness) decided that wasn't the answer, but that there HAD to be an answer out there. I could no longer support myself emotionally. I needed something bigger than myself to lean on.
All of high school and in the beginning of college I read. My research project: Does a God exist, who/what is that God?
- Is there one god? Or many gods?
- Ok, one god. Is god male or female or neither or both. I continued the search.
As far as I knew it, Jesus only gave us one set of instructions - how come there are so many variations??
Back to 2003. Catholicism wasn't even on my radar. I had heard from so many of my Protestant friends that they are idolators & blasphemes. I adopted the negative ideology they had for the Catholic church without ever looking into it like I had so many other religions. My boyfriend at the time asked that I attend his cousin's confirmation. I went. I was a good girlfriend you know. My first impression was that it was "alright". And then he asked me to go to Sunday Mass the following week. I went, but still with my arms crossed figuratively.
This particular Sunday, the readings were on John 6:22-69, the Bread of Life Discourse. Ok, another parable. Jesus taught with parables. What struck me was the priest. He was quite animated & excited. By the end of it, I could see why. He walked across the sanctuary (stage, if you will) back and forth, all through the sermon. Hands held up, very "on fire" so to speak. He pointed out that Jesus repeated "Amen, amen" four times. There are many important facts to this. To say Amen means "I agree" or "So Be It". To say it twice means there is indisputable emphasis in the statement. Then the priest pointed out that Jesus said "Amen, amen" anytime someone questioned or disputed His statement "I am the Bread of Life, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood with have eternal life." Jesus said "Amen, amen" when they called him a cannibal & blasphemer. He said "Amen, amen" when they asked Him if He was serious, because He just couldn't be serious. Jesus said "Amen, amen" when they questioned His divinity. Every other parable in the bible, you'll notice that when the listening ear didn't understand the point to be had, Jesus would explain it in a different way. But not this time. This was no parable. He persisted with the same statement. Eventually, they walked out on Him.
Jesus stuck to His statement and they (but the 12) all walked out on Him. Those were the people that saw Him heal the lame, blind, give life to the dead, perform miracle after miracle. But this statement was to hard to swallow (see what I did there :)). They saw him perform miracles but that wasn't enough to make them stay. That wasn't enough to make them believe - not after a statement like this. They walked away and went back to their previous beliefs.
At the moment I heard these words, my life was forever changed. I was to be Catholic. I didn't know how - heck I didn't even know all of what they stood for. But I couldn't walk away from Jesus. I believed His amens.
For the following year, I attended RCIA (Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults - see your local church, every parish has this ministry) My leader, Danny, equated me to a two year old. I always asked "Why?" to every tenant of the faith. But, why? I would continue. And the Church ALWAYS had an answer - and not a "Just because" or "That's the way it's always been" answer either. There was always an answer for everything, and everything always led back to Jesus and/or the covenants God made with us.
Easter of 2014, I will have been Catholic for 10 years. I have never looked back. Yes, there are times of doubt and deserts. But my faith is a relationship with the Lord. And relationships have dry spells sometimes, but there is an undying, unconditional (on His part - hey I'm human), LOVE that will never deteriorate.
It was the best decision I ever made for myself.
P.S. click the link on the right called "Catholics Come Home" if you are a fallen away Catholic, are Catholic and looking for resources or aren't Catholic and just have questions about the faith.
P.S.S. My mom is still sick - please pray for her and my family. God is with her & He is glorified through this. At the very least, through my mother's illness, I found the Lord - that in and of itself is a blessing.