CBB Review – Encountering Jesus : In Word, Sacraments, and Works of Charity

In his latest book, Encountering Jesus in Word, Sacraments, and Works of Charity
Msgr. Peter Vaghi provides a great resource for Catholics to deepen their faith. A book, which after reading it, will allow the reader to take the next step and spread the Good News as active participants in the New Evangelization.

There is a lot to like about this easily read 111 page book. Msgr. Vaghi has packed a lot into this volume. The book is divided into three parts: Encountering Jesus in His Word, Encountering Jesus in the Sacraments, and Encountering Jesus in Works of Charity. In each of the sections he details just exactly how a person encounters Jesus daily through Scripture, and individual charitable acts.

Part 1: Encountering Jesus in Word delves deeply into the Gospels. Msgr. Vaghi uses the story of Peter’s own encounter with Christ in the fishing boat to show how Peter walked away from everything to become an evangelizer for Christ. Msgr. than turns to how this story applies to each of us as evangelizers today and states: “By being truly open to the Word of God, we are encouraged to go out into the deep. The fish are awaiting us – men and women open to the New Evangelization”. Next he uses the parable of the sower and the seed that fell on rocky ground, amongst thorns and rich soil. The point being that understanding our faith is the rich soil which will allow it to grow within us. Finally he discusses how the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. Utilizing the five witnesses to the birth of Christ – the angels, the shepherds, the magi, Joseph, and Mary – to put the reader in the moment and tell us just how important that moment was when it happened and how it still is to us today.

Part 2: Encountering Jesus in the Sacraments is used to instill in the reader the importance of baptism, confession and the Eucharist. Our baptisms are “the gateway to the Christian life, the gateway sacrament. It is our dying and rising with Jesus. We encounter him there.” Through the baptism of Jesus himself, the reader is drawn into meditation on what their own share in the “priestly” mission of Christ. Next the story of the paralytic lowered through the roof by his friends is used to illustrate the importance of the sacrament of penance. Msgr. Vaghi points out that prior to healing the paralytic, Jesus forgave him his sins first. Taking it one step further it is pointed out that the four men that lowered the paralytic were representing evangelization at work. “…reaching out in love to someone in need, spiritually and physically, and bringing that person to Jesus against all odds”. The second part closes with the story of the story of the two disciples encountering Jesus on the road to Emmaus. This story is used to illustrate events that occur at every Mass. Jesus “interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures” similar to the Liturgy of the Word. The story end ends with Jesus sitting at table with them and the breaking of the bread. This is the sacrifice of the Eucharist.

Part 3: Encountering Jesus in Works of Charity discusses how helping our fellow man is a form of evangelization. “Not only are we hungry. Others are hungry as well. And we meet Jesus in them when we feed them. Not only are we thirsty, thirsty for the truth; so are others. And we meet Jesus in them when we give them a drink. Not only are we strangers in this global village, but so are others; and we meet Jesus in them when we show kindness and hospitality. Not only are we naked, ill, and imprisoned; so are others. And we meet Jesus in them when we clothe, care for, and help liberate them.” For me, that section I just quoted was the most powerful in the book.

This is a well researched book in which the author draws upon Scripture, numerous homilies of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis and multiple documents such as God is Love (Pope Benedict XVI), The Gospel of Life (Pope John Paul II), and the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Vatican II) to establish his points throughout the book. I am a firm believer in the fact that evangelization must begin with ones self. Msgr. Peter Vaghi’s easily read but information packed book provides the reader with the tools to do just that. The last section on charity gives the reader the encouragement to go out and help their fellow man and share the story of the Good News. This is a short read, but a powerful one. One that will set the reader down the path of new understanding of the Word, the Sacraments and Works of Charity.

I received a copy of the book for this review from the publisher Ave Maria Press.

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