In the Gospel today, Jesus makes many thought provoking statements; one in particular gives reason for pause: “But you do not want to come to me to have life.” Jesus explicitly reminds us that in order to have eternal life we must wholeheartedly embrace and follow him, even if it doesn’t always come with ease. One way to truly come to Jesus and embrace eternal life is through genuine encounter with our neighbor. It isn’t the easiest option to encounter a stranger with acceptance, or to encounter the sinner with forgiveness, or to encounter the outcast without judgment, but then again Jesus never said following him would be easy.  

As I chew on Jesus’ words, I recognize the profundity of Pope Francis’ call for a Jubilee Year of Mercy, because he is calling us to go beyond our comfort zone in order to truly encounter Christ through our neighbor. Let us pray that we may be moved to know Jesus more fully and moved to share mercy.

—Sadie Curtin serves as Co-Director of Faith Formation at the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.