The next time you get a chance, walk into a bakery and take a deep breath. Take in the aroma of all the different breads, cakes, and pies. It’s heavenly, isn’t it? You know that eating one of those tasty treats would be so much better than smelling them!
In a similar manner, watching your best friend get married may be exciting, but getting married yourself is far more exciting.
These analogies can help us see the difference between knowing about the gospel story and experiencing the Holy Spirit as someone alive and active in our hearts. In fact, Christ is best known when he is “Christ in you,” not when he is just a historical figure or a character in a story. In our first article, we talked about how Jesus is the heart of the mystery of God’s plan for creation. Now in this article, we want to talk about how Jesus wants to become “Christ in you” for each one of us.
Check Your Aim. Golfing instructors agree that when you are hitting a shot to the green, you need to focus on a spot just two feet in front of you and try to make the ball travel over that spot. If you focus on the far-off green, you have less of a chance of reaching your goal. This is because your eyes can play tricks on you and cause you to aim incorrectly. You may think you’re aiming directly at the target, but you may just as easily be aiming twenty yards to the left or the right. It may not make sense at first, but focusing on a spot right in front of you will help you reach a goal that is much farther away.
The same principle is true in the spiritual life. It all depends on where you fix your gaze. We know that the goal of our lives is to be filled with the Spirit, but the best way to get there is to fix our eyes on Jesus, the person right in front of us—and to focus specifically on the love he showed us on the cross. At Pentecost, people were “cut to the heart” and filled with the Holy Spirit not because Peter spoke about the Spirit or the spiritual life. It was because he spoke about Jesus’ death and resurrection (Acts 2:36-37). Essentially, he told them, “Fix your eyes on Jesus, and you’ll receive the Spirit.”
An Ounce of Faith. It’s not difficult to find Christ in you. It doesn’t require deep or heroic faith. When the sun rises in the morning, it always finds a way to shine in your bedroom. The curtains may be closed, and the blinds may be pulled down, but the light still finds a way—maybe through a tiny seam in the curtains or a crack in the blinds. That’s how it is with Jesus. He shines his light on people with strong faith and weak faith, on those whose hearts are like fully opened windows and on those who have closed all the blinds and curtains to him.
Just as a little bit of yeast is capable of changing a large lump of dough, Jesus has the power to soften the hardest of hearts. You don’t have to be a scholar, a theologian, or a saint. You don’t have to be wealthy, attractive, or successful. All you have to do is give the light that shines on you a chance. Jesus will do the rest. Isn’t that what he did for the Samaritan woman he met at a well when he asked her to give him a drink (John 4:2-42)? Isn’t that what he did when he invited Andrew and his friend to “come, and you will and see” (1:39)?
If you are a doubter, if you find it hard to believe that Jesus loves you, or if you think your sins are too great, then know this: just as the sun comes through that tiny opening in the blinds, so will Jesus come into your heart if you give him the slightest opportunity. He wants to speak to you just as much as he wanted to speak to the woman at the well and to Andrew. He wants to help you to pull up the blinds so that you can “come and see” who he is and how much he loves you. He is at work in you—even when you can’t see it!
He Will Find You. Christ is in you! He is in your heart, waiting for you to come to him. He wants to form your mind and your will. He wants to shower you with his love. He wants to deliver you from sin and empower you to live in holiness. If you want to find him, the key is faith—even the slightest bit. If you want to find him, then make this your one statement of faith and trust: “Christ lives in me.” You don’t even have to believe it completely. You just have to tell the Lord that you want to find him, and he will begin to work.
Often, obstacles like longstanding resentments, anger, or guilt over past sins can act like strongholds that keep us from finding Christ in our hearts. These strongholds influence how we think and act, and they block the light of the Lord. But not even these strongholds are powerful enough to keep us from the Lord when we try to turn to him.
When we give Jesus just a little bit of room, he will take it and set to work. He will find ways to pull down these strongholds, one by one, and replace them with the truths of his gospel. He will heal our wounds, forgive our sins, and show us how to change our thoughts and actions. Slowly but surely, he will displace everything that has a hold on us.
Think about the burning bush that Moses encountered on Mount Horeb (Exodus 3:1-5). Though the bush was clearly on fire, Moses could see that it wasn’t burning up. Instead, it was transfigured by the light and power of God. In a similar way, Christ in us can transfigure us. He can raise us up. By the fire of his love, he can consume the strongholds in us and fill us with the light and warmth of his presence.
So make these words your cry of faith and your daily mantra: “Christ lives in me.” It doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to know all the doctrines of your faith right away. There are no rigorous entrance exams. All you need is an open heart and a willingness to find the Lord. Then, he will find you!
Christ “Meets” Christ. Do you know what the most amazing miracle in all of Christianity is? It’s not some stupendous healing. It’s not a dancing sun or some other heavenly sign. No, the most amazing miracle happens millions of times a day in humble chapels and soaring cathedrals. It’s the miracle of the Eucharist. It’s the miracle of everyday sinners like us receiving Jesus, the eternal Son of God. It’s the miracle of Christ making his home in us.
It’s tempting to ask why we should bother receiving the Eucharist when Christ already lives in our hearts. Perhaps the best way to look at it is that when we receive Jesus in the form of bread and wine, we are receiving more of what we already have. We are receiving more grace, more peace, more encouragement, more power to change, and most of all, more love.
Scripture tells us that in marriage, the husband and wife become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). As they live together in love, they become more and more like each other. They think alike and act alike more and more over time. They become so united that you might even say that they live in each other. He always has her in his heart and mind, just as she has him in hers. The thought of seeing each other after work or after an extended absence gives them a sense of anticipation. Then when they are together, they fill each other up again. They never tire of being together.
This is what happens when you receive the Eucharist. Jesus, who is in you and who is always at work to bring you closer to him, “meets” Jesus, the Living Bread who comes down from heaven to feed you, strengthen you, forgive you, and protect you (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1416). This is the miracle that we are privileged to experience over and over and over again.
Trust His Presence. Brothers and sisters, Christ is in you! And he wants to come to you even more fully in the Eucharist. He wants to take you, no matter where you are in your journey of faith, and make you more like him. So place your faith in him. Keep telling yourself, “Christ lives in me,” and watch as he overcomes the strongholds in your life.