One of my favorite things to read during my personal prayer time is Magnificat. It’s a subscription where every month I receive a little booklet with the daily readings, reflections on those readings from different holy people, prayers, and different Saints of the Day. One particular morning, the Saint of the Day was Anatolius of Laodicea who died in the third century. In a reflection on this saint, one line stood out to me. I couldn’t move on from: “But Christ had taken hold of his heart…” This small sentence described why Anatolius did what he did, why he lived out heroic virtue in a time when the persecution of Christians was rampant. Christ had taken hold of his heart and everything changed. No longer was he living for himself or his selfish ambitions. He had “Kingdom eyes” where he looked upon the world in which he lived with the mindset that everyone is marked for eternity. Everyone had been chosen by God and therefore, every person was necessary.
“But Christ had taken hold of his heart…” More than what Christ wanted to do through Saint Anatolius, He just wanted his heart. More than what You do for God on this earth, He just wants you. You, specifically. More than the gifts and talents you possess and radically live out, Jesus just wants you. Christ wants to take hold of your heart and it’s through that taking that He will radically change the world. He desires to give you a new heart of flesh to replace your heart of stone (Ezekiel 36:26). It’s a heart transplant God is after, not a behavior modification.
God is love, and 1 Corinthians says, “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Our works are useless and futile if we do not possess love, if Christ does not have our heart.
In my job as a youth minister, I’m constantly talking to students and parents about God’s will for their lives. I’m actively hearing stories of desiring great, bold, and big things for the world, but I always have to remind them — it doesn’t matter if you’re doing small hidden things, or big, out-there things. If you’re living out of an abundance of love for Jesus, it will change lives. We’ve come to a point in society where we think in order for God to love us or use us more, we have to be the next Saint Teresa of Kolkata. We have to establish a new religious order or find the cure for cancer. The world already had a Teresa of Kolkata. The world now needs you. The “magic” or “secret” of Mother Teresa or Francis of Assisi or John Paul II was simple: they knew whose they were, and Christ had taken hold of their heart… everything they did was out of an overflow of love for Jesus.
So how does Christ take hold of your heart? I would ask, how’s your prayer life? How is your personal, daily walk for Jesus? It’s in those quiet, everyday moments when we communicate with a personal God that we are filled with His love, mercy, compassion, justice, joy, and peace. Then, when we step into the world, we are armed with a heart completely wrapped in Him so everything we do is God breathed back into a world that is crying out desperately for a Savior. Let us pray for Christ to take hold of our hearts this day, and to never give them back.
One of my favorite things to read during my personal prayer time is Magnificat. It’s a subscription where every month I receive a little booklet with the daily readings, reflections on those readings from different holy people, prayers, and different Saints of the Day.