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My Family Changed Forever

June 12, 2018

My Family Changed Forever

By Bob Iatesta, Man of Malvern

 

In my first blog, earlier this year, I shared how the Lord led me and my father into a life-changing retreat at Malvern.  That dramatic experience was the beginning of my father’s conversion and the awareness of the seriousness of his critical illness.

John’s gospel tells us we need to die to our old self and become a new creation in Christ our Lord.  My father’s name was “John.”  And, he lived those words.  The witness of his transformation and the courage, with which he lived and died, caused me and my family to change forever.

Today, over 50 years later, I stand in awe of what God can do in our life, if we just give over control.  That, my friends, is the most difficult part of trying to change.  But, I assure you our God can be trusted.

The pivotal change for my Dad started in an honest encounter with a holy priest who listened deeply to his human fears and yet led him to believe that despite his distance from church life for almost 30 years, “Jesus was his best friend.”  That friendship with Jesus is what I want to share with you.  There is a great line in the canon of the Mass for children that generally say::  “Jesus came to take away our sins so that we can become friends with God and with each other.”

Over these many years since that powerful, life changing experience in 1964, I have come to see “Friendship” as a major part of God’s plan for us, as we journey back to our Father’s house.  Human friendship is the beginning of our understanding.  However, the fragility which we all bring to our relationships, cause us to be afraid.  We just don’t want to be hurt.  Christian friendship is so very different.  With Jesus at the center of our Christian relationships, we need not fear.  Jesus wants to take away our fear of hurt and mistrust.

In the in beginnings of our lay ministry, I did several workshops with mature men on “Friendship.”  What I realized was that many men had great friends when they were young boys.  However, as the responsibilities and disappointments of life grew, they moved away from deep friendship.  I’ve had many older men shed tears on my chest, sharing how much they longed for the love of a father and at least one good friend.  Jesus wants to touch that lonely place in our hearts and spirit.  Regardless of our age and experience, He wants a deeper surrender to His love and His Spirit.

Time spent with the Lord and wise, holy people will lead us to understand and believe, as my Dad, that Jesus truly is our best friend.  As we allow Him to heal us and lead us into holy relationships, our lives will become fuller and happier, and useful to God in building His Kingdom here on earth.

 

 

 

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