Hi! I’m Joseph Gruber, missionary here at Saint John the Evangelist parish.

Our local bishop, Bishop Boyea, has asked us to think deeply (and act boldly) in growing and going as disciples of Jesus. If you don’t mind, I’d like to offer a brief reflection on what growing looks like in our relationship with Jesus.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” His desire is to dwell with us, and our response is to build a home with Him. His home is our heart, and that’s where growth starts.
Before I married my lovely wife, she moved into the apartment that was going to be our first home. She was figuring out where things went and how things worked and ended up building habits of eating, sleeping, and working–all without me.

But when we married, every room became not hers and not mine– they were ours. And we had to figure out how to live a common life together. All of my flaws and her (few) flaws were out in the open, then, vulnerable and needing to change for the sake of the other. Our habits had to change, because it wasn’t just me and it wasn’t just her, it was us. My mind, my habits, and my heart have been and continue to be shaped by her living a life in common with me. But that didn’t really take place until we lived together. No matter how much we dreamed about marriage before our wedding day, we had to live it to really grow in it.

Jesus wants something similar with everyone. He wants to move into the homes of our hearts, in whatever state of preparation they are in at the time, and live a life in common with us. We grow with Him. Early on in my marriage, my wife wanted me to stay out of the home office since it was a mess because of all of her stuff. I had to tell her that no amount of fixing on her part would make it usable, since it took both of our input to make it a room for both of us to use.

Jesus won’t just jump into the messy corners of our lives without our invitation, but He wants in, because He wants us. He wants to impact our minds– Jesus wants to give us His mind, really. He wants to change our habits– we can no longer live as spiritual bachelors. No amount of imagining Christ’s impact on our hearts will be the same as Christ being allowed to impact our hearts. “What would Jesus do?” isn’t the question of growing: “What is Jesus doing right now, and how does that change me?” is the question.

Sometimes, though, growing is painful. Are we hiding skeletons in our closets–past or present sins that we want to cover up– for fear of the response? We may have been burned by parents, siblings, friends, or romantic interests, and found that opening up to someone fully has only led to pain. We may be just as terrified by the possibility that God will accept us as we are that God will reject us. We might be afraid to tell God what is really going on in our hearts, because we don’t think our desires and thoughts and feelings are worth anything, and so we rush about “doing God’s will” for others without ever letting His will address our needs. How lonely a life together when we keep our past, present, or future apart from the one we share a life with!

And yet how joyful when life is well-lived together! A good marriage begets good marriages, and lets others know that such a life is possible. Our life with Jesus is something that we can invite others into when we start growing with Jesus in our day-to-day lives.