Allow Christ to Know You
“I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers” (Mathew 7:23). These are pretty chilling words to hear from Jesus. For many of us, these are the last words we ever hope to hear from Jesus. These words, at a glance, seem unfitting to come out of the mouth of Jesus. I mean, does it make sense that Jesus could ever say that he does not know us? Jesus, who is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity? Ominiscient (All-Knowing)? It is probably safe to assume Christ was not making a mistake or talking out of character when he is saying these words. What is going on here?
We have officially made it to the second week of Lent. Maybe you have wondered why are we even doing this? In no attempt is this an exhaustive list but here are a few reasons why we may fast.
- First, because Christ himself fasted. As Jesus himself entered the desert after his baptism, we too, enter the desert. He didn’t need to fast because he is sinless. However, Christ continues nonetheless to enter into the desert experiencing extreme hunger, thirst, and even loneliness. As he descended the waters of Baptism, Christ descends and enters the great depth of human suffering. He descends not that he might leave us in our death, suffering, and sin but that we may “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
- Second, we fast so that we can break free from the bondage of the slavery of sin. Saint Paul says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions” (Romans 6:12). So often we may fall prey to the thinking, “This habit or sin is impossible to stop. We are human.”It is true, Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). However, we fast with hope in Jesus’ words when he says, “With God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
- Thirdly, we fast to remind ourselves who we are. We are human. As Christ tasted death, our lives will come to an end and will will die. This is something to remember as we often do everything in our power to forget and avoid it. It is important to remember to make us ready. As far as we see from the Gospel, no one gets to heaven by wandering. We get there by cooperating with God.
What do these reasons for fasting have to do with the Gospel? Well, looking at the exchange between Christ and the people in the synagogue, he puts forth a challenging standard of living. In Christ’s standard of living, He wishes to break us free from every obstacle in between us and Him.
In our deep fear and brokenness, we avoid letting ourselves be known. We may fear that if people really know us, then maybe they won’t be as fond as they are to us. So we mask, isolate, and retreat. This could happen in our human relationships to the point where we begin to believe, “If God really knew me, he wouldn’t be so quick to love and forgive.” How far could that be from the truth. God does not love us for what we have done in success or failure, he loves us because of who we are: sons and daughters of God, made in his image and likeness and destined for heaven.
God knows us. But he doesn’t force a relationship. If we do not let ourselves known to him. If we who are wounded, do not come to the doctor, how will he heal us? How will he know our wounds? How will he give us the medicine needed if we do not come forth?
We allow ourselves to be known by God first though the Sacrament of Confession. There, we remember that we need God and he is ready to meet us there to bring us up. We allow ourselves to be known through prayer and conversation. We allow ourselves to be known by giving ourselves away in charity and love. So it’s not just casting out demons and doing mighty works in Christ’s name; it is being known and loved by God that matters in the end. We do this, in hopes that the words “I never knew you depart from me” may turn in to the words “‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).