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AN ENCOUNTER

Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan is committed to take initiative, to put the faith of the Church into action, to run out to those in need and to walk with them through the challenges of life – to share an encounter. The faith of all Christians can be summarized simply as an encounter, an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. This encounter is one that is initiated by God himself who saw us in sin and suffering, and became one of us. Through his suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension he raised humanity into participation with the Triune, self-giving, love of God.

In the Gospel of Luke, we see this encounter shown in multiple ways:

  • A man being lowered from a roof by his friends to encounter Jesus in the hopes of a healing (Luke 5: 17-26).
  • We read Jesus calling Zacchaeus looking to get a glimpse of him from a tree (Luke 19: 1-10).
  • We read a women who is healed by touching his cloak and another raised from the dead (Luke 8: 40-56).
  • Jesus encounters a beggar who asks for mercy and he heals him (18:35-43).
  • Jesus also tells of his love for those on the fringe in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, (Luke 15: 1-7).
  • In the parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke10:25-37) we learn the meaning of love of neighbor.

In these Lucan encounters, we learn that Christ wants to have a relationship with us in the here and now --with all our fault and failings, sufferings and hurts. Ultimately, we know that Jesus, in his suffering and death, encounters and knows our pains, hurts, and failings. We have a God who encountered death, and was victorious! We also learn that we are called to be Christ in our love for others, and to allow others to discover and ultimately encounter God through us—our words, our actions. But first we must take the initiative, put our faith into action. Responding to all that Christ has done for us, we freely give ourselves to others, and in doing so, we are enriched.

There are two additional stories from Luke that help illustrate the idea of encounter:

The Prodigal Son (Luke 15)

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In Luke chapter 15, Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son. In this parable we learn that a son asks for his inheritance from his Father and he leaves. Once gone, he squanders his inheritance and due to a famine is hungry. He decides to return home and to be a hired hand for his father. And here is where we witness a profound encounter:

But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

— Luke 15:20

“AND RAN!” These two words ring out loudly than all others. This father saw his son and did not wait for him to come, instead he ran to him, embraced him and kissed him. Is this not what God has done for us? Is this not what we are called to do for others?

Walk to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35)

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In this chapter we see two men walking seven miles away from Jerusalem. Certainly, they were confused and perhaps dejected on what had just occurred with Jesus death on the cross. While the other apostles were gathering in the upper room, these two were walking seven miles in the wrong direction. And as they walked they had an encounter on the road with a man they did not recognize. This stranger went on to explain the scriptures, and show them the meaning of Jesus’s death. When they had arrived and it was getting late, they invited Jesus to come in and dine. The stranger, “took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them” and their eyes were opened as to who the stranger was—it was Jesus resurrected! He vanished. They immediately returned to Jerusalem and told the apostle and others how their hearts was “burning at the breaking of the bread.” What a encounter with the risen Christ!

These encounters described in Luke and especially in these two chapters illustrate what the work of Catholic Charities is all about and certainly are helpful for us as people of faith. In the prodigal son we learn to be compassionate and to take the initiative. As people are hurting and in need, are we still waiting at the door awaiting their arrival or are we ready to start running out to meet them. The grace and mercy that God extends to us, we must return to others in kind. In the walk to Emmaus we learn of the importance of walking with others on their journey. To walk with them, give them counsel, put them on the right path, and give them hope—a hope found in God Himself.

We at Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan are committed to helping those in need not only with their current situation, but help them encounter Christ through our services. We work to make the love of God tangible to those we serve and in the communities we serve. We invite you to put your faith in action through giving to others. It is through giving that we in turn grow—grow in love, grow in our relationship with Christ, grow in virtue and compassion, and grow in holiness.


Jason Shanks

by Jason Shanks

CEO, Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan