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Fitchburg mission: ‘Move closer to Christ’

Posted By April 3, 2014 | 12:42 pm | Lead Story #3
4-4 lenten missionWEB

By Patricia O’Connell
CFP Correspondent

FITCHBURG – Father William C. Konicki, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Hopedale, came to Fitchburg last week to preach a Lenten mission on discipleship and “Returning to God.”
He opened his talk with an anecdote about a woman who prayed a lot, but, perhaps, needed to work on her personal relationship with Jesus. When someone jokingly said, “Josephine, this is Jesus,” she told him to shut up because she was busy talking with Jesus’ mother.
Father Konicki used this as an example of why we need to move closer to Christ, so we don’t miss his voice when he calls us.
The rest of his talk to the people who came to St. Francis of Assisi Parish for the first leg of the four-night mission centered on Gospel stories, and how we can be more like those people we read about and hear about at Mass.
He said the word “disciple” is used 205 times in the New Testament, and he noted that word means “to follow” and “to learn from.”
When Jesus was walking on earth, Father Konicki explained, people would hear about him and then decide to go and see what their friends and relatives were talking about.
Father Konicki noted that we are being called to follow Christ, and we are called by name.
“Each of us is called by name at our baptism,” he said, and we need to act as “his hands, his eyes, his mouth.”
“Our Lenten experience is about deepening that relationship with Jesus Christ,” he added.
Father Konicki then began to describe the people mentioned in the Bible, and said, “I want us to be attracted to the people who said, ‘Yes, I will follow.’” He said the apostles Peter, James and John were especially close to Christ, and seemed to be his closest confidantes.
Much of his talk centered on familiar stories of people who personally encountered Jesus, and were transformed as a result. He said they were the kind of disciples who were looking for the Messiah, and when they knew they had found him, they wanted to share the news with others.
“Are you that kind of disciple, looking for someone to fill the empty space of your life and follow the Christ?” he asked the audience.
Another person who knew she found Christ was the woman Jesus met at the well. “This was a woman who was ashamed of herself,” Father Konicki said, explaining that she felt judged by others. She had been married five times, and the man she was now with wasn’t her husband.
“So she goes to the well in the heat of the day, to fetch her water,” he continues. “This woman at the well has tapes playing in her mind. She’s filled with shame. She’s filled with disgust, very much alone. She needs Jesus.”
However, her life changes for the better, as a result of this meeting.
“This woman at the well listens to Jesus,” he said. “It replaces all the negative tapes, all the same, with the Living Water.”
Then, he said, she went to tell others of her encounter with the Messiah, “There’s somebody up at the well who knows everything about me. He accepts me for who I am. Come and see.”
What she was doing was following Christ, and inviting others to do the same, according to Father Konicki.
Father Konicki also spoke of Joseph of Arimathea, the secret follower of Jesus.
“He (Joseph) was a very important man,” he explained. “He thought this has to be the Messiah. He didn’t want to share it with anyone because he was in a leadership position. He remained a secret disciple for fear of the Jews.”
This was a disciple who claimed the body of Christ after he died, and then Father Konicki noted that he laid the body to rest in what was supposed to be his own tomb. “Imagine the talk from the temple, from the leaders,” he said, showing the progression of Joseph’s faith. “When you deepen the relationship with Jesus Christ … finally you don’t want to keep it a secret anymore.”
“We can’t keep it inside,” he added. “We must let our faith be shown.”
Father Konicki then spoke about Martha and Mary, two sisters with different temperaments. Martha busied herself with different tasks. But Mary moved at a slower pace, and was able to sit at “the feet of Jesus clinging to every word he said.”
“They were disciples,” he said of the people in the Gospel he had just described. “We’re on a journey of faith. All of us are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ and (we are) to imitate the holy men and women of the Scriptures.”