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 the foundation of growing and going: our call to a covenantal relationship with Jesus.

With all of the confusion about what a marital covenant is, is it any wonder that there’s some confusion about what a divine covenant is like?

Many couples get up before an altar and say the words that should make them man and wife, and a surprising number of them enter with reservations or impediments to receiving each other fully, making their covenant, well, not really a covenant. Something similar happens when we thoughtlessly go before the altar, say “Amen,” and receive our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament– we go with reservations or impediments to a fully-lived out relationship with Jesus.

How is it people can give lip service to marriage and not really be married? How can we say we belong to Christ and not really be in that covenantal relationship? I think the two may be related.

Marriage prep is supposed to draw out the dimensions of the persons about to be married, to help them know the extent of self-gift they are called to reach and receive. If the preparation is unclear, most couples keep moving forward. If it’s clear, only couples who are ready to commit go forward.

Saying ‘yes’ to marriage is saying ‘yes’ to accompanying through cancer clinics and pediatric clinics, births and burials, celebration and sorrow, tragedy and comedy, along with all the mundane details of life, all with the spouse of our choosing.

Saying ‘yes’ to Jesus is saying ‘yes’ to everything in the Beatitudes– mourning, weeping, peace-keeping, injury, meekness, and more–all with Jesus.

Jesus wants to say to us what is said on a wedding day: “I, Jesus, take you to be my beloved. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” When we go to receive Him in the Eucharist, do we hear Him, and say the same to Him?

Do you remember the recent story about a number of Egyptian martyrs, where their witness was so strong that one of their murderers ended up joining them and sharing in their death? Have we made such a commitment to Jesus yet—one that would inspire others to do the same? Is that covenantal commitment the kind of commitment we are prepared to make?

If we set someone up with a blind-date, we probably won’t lead with the sickness and health business, and rightfully so; but if we’re the best man or the maid of honor, we really owe it to them to make sure that they’re in for the whole deal.

We can’t grow without committing to Jesus, and we definitely can’t go and invite others without committing to Him, either. Our first step to Grow and Go is recommitting our lives to Jesus today and every day.