Column by Father Jonathan Dickson
As I write this article, we are in anticipation of our all school retreat, which will take place on August 26th. And so, you will likely be reading this article after the retreat. However, with complete hope that the retreat will go well, I would like to briefly discuss this year’s theme and reflect on how it might impact us all as we embark on a new academic year. Having spoken with the Jesuit retreat directors, we settled on the theme: You are invited, based on the initial words of Jesus in John’s Gospel (1:3539):
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.”
The disciples had no idea that they were going to “see” the Son of God heal the sick, raise the dead, feed thousands from a few loaves and a few fish, and cast out demons. It would have been beyond their imagination that they would witness the Messiah scourged, and hung on a cross to die, only to be resurrected.
And so, the invitation was to embark on a journey that was actually quite uncertain in their eyes, even if it was crystal clear in the eyes of God. And so too our path to discipleship starts with a somewhat vague and unsettling invitation. Jesus did not map out the journey, if he would have, most of them would have turned away at the start. This was not the type of Messiah they were seeking. They had to experience it, and live it, before they would come to know that it was truly he. And so too must we. Jesus Christ comes into the ordinariness of our daily lives extending the invitation over and over again. And what he has planned is so much more than we could possibly imagine.
This year God is inviting you into a life much larger than yourself. And, big or small, it is most likely beyond your imagination and surely beyond your plans. Maybe your plans are a perfect GPA, a high score on the SAT’s, or to average 10 points a game. Great. But there is always more. God has plans for you that will shock you, leave you awestruck, and sometimes even leave you saddened. But if you continue to accept the invitation to, “come and see,” you will not only grow academically, physically, and athletically, you will grow as a human. Jesus Christ took on the human condition so that in searching for ourselves, we might run directly into him. There is nothing greater worth pursuing. The invitation has been extended. Jesus Christ is approaching each of you and saying, “come and see.” I encourage you to accept the invitation. You will not be disappointed!
Father Jonathan Dickson is the Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Victory Parish in State College and Chaplain at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Boalsburg.