Some moments cement themselves in your memory for years. The following, for me, is one of those memories. The last thing I was expecting at ten-thirty at night after a calming hour of prayer and adoration on a retreat a few years ago was a 21-year-old girl screaming about the faith at me, just a few inches from my face—my sleepy-looking, unsuspecting face.
I was headed back to my dorm with a friend at an October retreat after a night of prayer, adoration, and song. Our walk back to our room was quiet and peaceful, and we could see other attendees peppered along the sidewalks and streets venturing back to their own rooms across the dark campus. Then, out of nowhere, a girl comes sprinting up to us from across the street, gets about four inches from my face, and yells, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH JESUS LOVES YOU?!”
At first, I was a little caught off-guard (please take notice of my understatement). I would assume that my eyes widened to some cartoonish extent, and, from the look on my friend’s face, I could tell that she was not only surprised, but, well, terrified. I have little recollection of my reaction to the screaming girl (since my part in the drama was obviously the less memorable component of the encounter), but I would wager a guess that my response was a timid “yes?” Like I said though, it was dark, she was yelling, I was exhausted, and what was left of my wits was snapping back at me, asking, why is she evangelizing in such a loud voice?
When I look back on that moment now, I know that recollecting the whole ordeal is worth more than a laugh. That night I had her blurting question not only crammed into my ear drums, but seared into my brain as well. “Do I have any idea how much Jesus loves me?”
This past weekend, thousands of Catholics from around the Archdiocese of Atlanta came together for the Eucharistic Congress. As a community of faithful, we had the opportunity to hear amazing stories and teachings from inspiring and holy Catholic men and women, worship in song with outstanding Catholic musical artists, and celebrate together the Holy Mass. But, most importantly, Catholics came from all over the archdiocese to renew their devotion to and adore the Holy Eucharist—the most obvious, magnificent, concrete statement of Love our world will ever know. Do you have any idea how much Jesus loves you? That much. We only have to gaze into the Blessed Sacrament on the altar to have the answer to the screaming girl’s late night, eardrum-bursting question: Yes, I do. He loves me that much.
Our whole lives would change if we reminded ourselves of this reality more often. Her question teaches us that we need to spend more time in adoration—that every moment of every day we should remember that we need not search through hundreds of books or converse with dozens of people in order to find the authentic and unmatched Love that we have been looking for. St. Augustine spent years searching for the God who loved him until he found Him in the one place he hadn’t looked: his own heart.
Jesus loves you so much that He died for you and then gave (and gives) Himself to you endlessly and concretely in the Holy Eucharist. He loves you so much that He comes into your very flesh when you consume Him and so much that He resides in your very own heart. Jesus loves you that much.