Three Conversions

In my mid to late twenties, I considered seriously converting to a new faith, one which I found more exciting. I was attracted to the spirit of community that I observed among its members and to the novelty of its teachings, all of which exist in my own Catholic faith. But I had not immersed myself sufficiently into all the beauty that the Catholic religion has to offer to know this. I wanted what I saw in this other faith for my own life. It was terrible struggle.

I did not know where I belonged in the Church, and I did not know where it belonged in my life. A spiritual awakening inside of me was taking place, which made this struggle possible. It was this struggle that would eventually bring me to a higher spiritual and religious plane in my Catholic faith. I have since found my place in the Catholic Church, and its place in my life. What I have now discovered is that the Church’s place in my life, and my place in the life of the Christ’s Church, begins with my own ministry. And my own ministry is my family, my vocation, and spreading the news about Jesus Christ according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul writes in the Letter to the Colossians in 4: 2-18, “Be tactful with those who are not Christians and be sure you make the best use of your time with them. Talk to them agreeably and with a flavour of wit, and try to fit your answers to the needs of each one.”

But before I reached this point, I had been trying to find my place in the Church and the Church’s place in my life by looking outside of myself and outside the Church into which I was baptized. Little did I know that the prototype of my relationship to Christ and the Church community was forged in the blacksmith’s forge of competitive sport. Belonging, discipline and commitment were rich treasures I rejoiced in daily, and now I wanted the same thing. I had given up sport because my community had vanished as my friends moved away, and I had changed to. I could no longer bear the existence of working constantly on myself, my physical improvement as an athlete, to the exclusion of all other people, beginning with my family. I remember the early pangs of guilt that eventually became too much, at leaving home on Saturdays, now no longer a child, and the look on my father’s face. And the world also beckoned to me from afar for my personal development as furthering my post-secondary education also became a priority. The emptiness of my failing my obligations to my family, to others and the need get on with turning myself into a more contributing type of person became a weight I could not bear any longer, for I had matured. “When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.”[1]

God in me yearned to make the lives of others better by involving myself more in the world where they were, rather than to continue to spend time inward on myself. I crafted a sculpture of myself and it was nearly perfect, but lo, the more I perfected it, the deeper and the longer a crack spread through its centre, and the only way, indeed a tragic way, of removing its blemish, was to leave myself to die in the sculpture’s studio and offer myself up to the benefit of others, beginning with my family. But the paradox was that when I died I became alive; I was reborn. And now I wanted God and faith to be at the centre of it all. “What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies.”[2] “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”[3]

There was “a God-shaped hole in my life that only God could fill.” I felt as Blaise Pascal did when he observed:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.[4]

I felt as St. Augustine did when he wrote about God, after his miraculous conversion to Christianity following his mother’s, St. Veronica’s, life-long prayers for his conversion: “our heart is restless until it rests in you”.[5]

And I was bearing witness to what Christ exclaimed to his disciples: “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’ He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.”[6]

But I have come to appreciate that the way to live my faith and deepen my relationship with God and Christ starts at my centre. For “where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” [7] Moving outward in concentric circles from Christ and God, my heart is my family and my vocation. These, then, are my ministry. And all the nodes of my activities – family life, volunteerism, work and social engagements – are networked to my heart and are the ground on which I try to spread unconditional love and the Gospel message in the world in the best way I know how. This, then, is the way I have decided to live my Catholic faith.

But before I had come to the decision to live out my ministry in the Catholic faith, I was a like a blind man groping in the dark for things to give me balance. And one of the things I did during that deep inner struggle was to consider converting to another faith. But my eyes and mind were fixed on joining a group rather than growing in my own religion, with all of the spiritual beauty and community it has to offer, and from there, growing in communion with others in faith.

My reconciliation with the Lord and his spouse, the Catholic Church, occurred through three conversions. Each one brought me closer to Christ and to God, through the work of the Holy Spirit. Three times I denied Christ, like Peter, but with infinite mercy in His eyes, three times Christ asked me to confirm that I loved him, as if to redeem me of the sin I had committed in denying Him.[8] Like Peter, I chose Christ. On that third time I too married Christ’s Church, knelt down on my right knee, took His hand and accepted Him as my Lord God and Saviour, my Heavenly King, my Messiah, the fullness of God, the fulfilment of Sacred Scripture, the one who is actually, not figuratively, contained in the Heavenly Host that is consumed at Mass. When we consume Christ’s flesh and blood, He reconciles us with God, fills the space between our Spirit and our God, and trounces the distance set down by flesh and sin between us and God.

In analytic geometry, an asymptote of a curve is a line such that the distance between the curve and the line approaches zero as they tend to infinity. In other words, the line and the curve never touch, even though the distance between them gets smaller and smaller. The straight line is represented by the value of 0, and the curve approaches the value of 0, but never quite gets there.

Christ closes the distance once and for all between the asymptote of our sinful nature and the straight line of God. By our best efforts and the law of Moses, we may always tend towards that line, towards God, but we never quite become one with Him completely. But with Christ the asymptote finally breaches the chasm, touches the value of 0, and becomes one with the straight line of God, who is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega,[9] the infinite circle, our Heavenly Father above. And this is what happens when we live with Christ in our lives and consume his flesh and blood at mass. Through Christ the space separating us from God is closed, and Christ fills the gap. And I haven’t. Looked. Back.

My asymptote was closed onto the straight line of God through three conversions.

First Conversion

An uncle of mine with whom I am close once told me a story and its meaning has remained with me. One day, he received an enquiry about whether he would consider taking a prominent post with the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the Canadian House of Commons. Shortly after receiving the enquiry, he received a call from his tenant: the basement apartment had flooded.

Some things happen and you don’t think twice about them, but other times, for reasons unknown, you sense they have the weight of cosmic significance. Somehow, they relate us to the sublime and have the weight of the supreme. It can’t quite be explained with the satisfaction of scientific proof, but this phenomenon is based on circumstantial evidence, as well as the way you sense them in your heart. The line between superstition and faith is a very fine one, and I think that line is drawn where we carefully decipher meaning in a great pattern and narrative of signs around us, through a deep and abiding sense of the divine, paired with considered thought and reflection, truthful observation of the events around us, and a sensitive intuition paired with reason.

As he cleared the basement ankle-deep in the flood, and with the offer still on his mind, my uncle was overwhelmed with a deep sense of ill to come. For a total sum of sound reasons, he refused the offer, but in the end, the Leader of the Official Opposition suffered one of the most humiliating political defeats in Canadian political history.

So it was that, one night, I went to bed having made up my mind to convert to the other faith, having decided to convert to it and leave behind the seat and cradle of my Catholic faith and its traditions, forms of prayer, sacraments, inner life and outer existence in the world.

It was wintertime. When I woke up the next morning, I made my way slowly downstairs in the darkness of the early morn. While I filled my cup with cold water for a drink at the kitchen sink under the moonlight, I noticed the glimmer of a leak right in front of me that hadn’t been there before, and that has never reappeared. The leak was travelling down the kitchen window that overlooked our backyard, and fell onto the countertop above the sink, where it spread onto the counter and made its way onto the kitchen floor.

I was overwhelmed by a deep sense of something being awry around me. I felt unsettled, and suddenly my imminent conversion felt awry, like a bad decision. It was in this context that I recollected my uncle’s experience, and I think I felt as he had. Some things just don’t strike me as having special significance, and some things do. And this did.

Some will say it was “in my head”, and I would agree. But the question is not whether it was in my head, but whether it was in my head on account of a divine source, or merely as a matter of chemicals and neurons sans référence à Dieu, i.e. without reference to God. And since I am a person of faith, I cannot but see the situation as issuing from the former, as all do who choose faith as their way of life.

And perhaps our attic was destined to leak due to insufficient insulation during the winter months. But it leaked at that moment in time, and at no other time before or since. And, it struck me as telling me that things were not just awry in my house, but awry in the house of my heart as well. The powerfulness of how I read this sign is part of its significance, and cannot be detached from it, for credence in these things must be given also to the human mind and imagination, as something with a powerful and direct connection to the spiritual and the divine. We do the brilliance of our nature, and the potential of our spiritual life and fulfillment, a great injustice when we see our minds, our imaginations and our dreams as cut off from the divine, as inaccessible to it, as purely self-sufficient, as being made up of only protons, neutrons and electrons. Live amazed. Give faith and prayer a fighting chance. Open yourself up to the possibility that your mind is not a single cell computer, but connect it to the vast internet of heavenly beings and the heavenly Father, and see what power it is capable of, and what beautiful and sublime spiritual and physical beatitude you are then capable of too.

It is not just the coincidence of events that gives a thing meaning, but the coincidence of the events and the special meaning or idea that one receives in one’s mind and feels in one’s heart as one sees the events unfolding as in a great soliloquy. This gives us and our lives real, lasting and heavenly significance, and one that does not die with us but that continues for eternity. See the narrative, see God’s hand at work in all the unfolding events and “coincidences” in your life; see Him in all His greatness affecting change, once you open yourself up to His all-powerful grace. Pray that His Holy Spirit comes down on you like a dove, and He will open up paths for you that you never expected, and that lead to your true happiness and flourishing on the unique path he has set down for you and only you. His actions are more than the mere sum of their parts; the events in your life are not merely the addition and subtraction of causal effects. See the signs and wonders, and you will believe. For if you do not, you will never believe.[10] And in belief, you will find great respite, and in your respite, forgiveness of your sins and love, lightness underfoot and salvation. As Christ told his followers, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke[11] upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”[12]

Now back to my story. As soon as I discovered the leak in my kitchen window, something told me to crack open the New Testament, which I had begun reading of late, and which lay solemnly in the dark, pig-eared on my kitchen table. In my contemplation of this new faith, my understanding of Jesus as my Godhead in trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit was being seriously challenged. My understanding of this new faith was that I needed to move away from Christ as such in my life, because in embracing this new religion I would be following a new prophet who was not, as far as I could tell, Christ, but was someone else who spoke in God’s name. This all put me ill-at-ease.

The passage I flipped to randomly and read in the New Testament was an exhortation by the author not to be led astray from the faith. By recollection and after re-reading the letters, I believe it was 2 Timothy 3, verses 14-15, where Paul writes: “Continue in the truths that you were taught and firmly believe. You know who your teachers were, and you remember that ever since you were a child you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

When I read the passage, I put the book down immediately. I thought for a while and put the idea of conversion on hold.

Second Conversion

A year passed, and again, like Peter, I denied the Christ. Again, I was drawn by the allure of this other faith and the camaraderie of its community. I attended one of its gatherings one Sunday night. Now again I made up my mind that I would belong to this group, and I had been persuaded that I should drop my worship in the Christian tradition once I did so, for it wouldn’t be necessary anymore. But then the signs began to appear again, but stronger and more frequently this time, and like never before. Here is how they came to be.

The First Sign – Monday

At the time, there was a friend of a friend of mine who lived in Ottawa. I had only met him once, and the only thing I knew about him was that he was just about the most devout young Christian guy I knew. The day after the Sunday I just described, I received a random email from him inviting me to lunch. I accepted. This was only the beginning.

The Second Sign – Tuesday 

At that time there was a gentleman who was taking a leadership role in the Church in Ottawa I was attending and whom I had become acquainted with. I hadn’t heard from him in months. On Tuesday I received an email from him inviting me to join him in prayer the following Saturday. It was the first such invitation I had ever received. I accepted.

The Third Sign – Wednesday 

On Wednesday morning I pulled up to my parking spot at work only to find a car parked in it with a Jesus fish on the bumper. I thought, “Christ, have you even come to my office?” I would soon find out that he had.

Now, the previous Friday I had met with the family services director at the funeral home I was collaborating with on a seminar series on Wills and Estates to the Ottawa church community. We had just presented to a church in Ottawa. The family services director had suggested strongly to me on Friday that we present to Woodvale, “preferably to groups of 50-100”.

Flash forward to Wednesday. The gentleman who was parked in my spot was a member of the audience I had recently presented to. He is a very devout Christian. “Dylan!” he exclaimed, and then he said to me “you should really present to Woodvale Church. Preferably to groups of 50-100. I will speak to the pastor.” This was at 9:00 in the morning.

Fourth Sign – Wednesday, again

Then, at 10:00, I had my first meeting of the day with a new client, Leon. Earlier that morning before leaving for work, I had read a few random pages from the New Testament. At the end of our meeting, he placed his hands on the meeting room desk across from me, leaned in and said, “we have talked about what you wanted to talk about. Now I would like to talk about what I want to talk about.” Intrigued, I listened. “Dylan, he said “how is your relationship with Jesus?”

I was floored. Just that morning a Jesus fish was in my parking spot. I had just received a random invitation from just about the most Christian guy I knew, and I had just received the first invitation to pray with someone else I had ever received.

I’ll be honest, no one has ever asked me that question. Trying to keep cool I replied that I had been deepening my faith in God and my relationship to Him in the last year, which was true, but I knew the full answer was that I was struggling with the question of whether to convert. Then we had a conversation about our shared relationship to Jesus, but I finally admitted to my struggle, and it was a relief. I told him I was considering another faith. Patiently, he exhorted me to stay the course Jesus had shown, and then he began citing the exact same scripture passages I had randomly read that very morning. He told me about the Holy Spirit in ways I hadn’t considered, telling me He has all the feelings a human does, and that He surrounds us with signs and wonders and wants to bring us closer to Christ. Again, I was floored.

Fifth Sign – Wednesday, again

When the meeting ended I returned to my desk and read my email. And wouldn’t you know it, standing there in my inbox was a LinkedIn invitation from a priest and family friend. I thought “Christ, you really know how to reach a guy in the 21st century.”

Six Sign – Wednesday, again

Dimes for me have represented for some years the presence of my grandfather, who was a devout Catholic university professor, school board trustee and member of provincial parliament.

When I arrived home Wednesday evening, there was a dime in the windowsill that hadn’t been there before. These things I swear, as God is my witness.

Seventh Sign – Thursday

The following evening I joined my client at his weekly prayer group. The passage we discussed was 1 John 4:4, which says “But you belong to God, my children, and have defeated the false prophets; because the Spirit who is in you is more powerful than the spirit in those who belong to the world.” I thought the passage was too relevant to what I was going through to pass over. I “kept all these things, reflecting on them in [my] heart.”[13]

What is more, the number 14 continues to appear and reappear in my life. When I moved away for law school, my apartment address in my first year was 414, located in building 14 of the law school residences. I was in the graduating class of 2014.[14] My exam number was 4414, and the first exam of my last semester in law school was on April 14, 2014 – or 4-14-14. The following year, when my wife was in the hospital for the birth of our first child, she started pushing at 4:14. Our child was born an hour later.

I couldn’t help but notice the numbers 14 and 4 again, in 1 John 4:4.

After deep reflection, I came to the conclusion that I should remain in and deepen my faith life in Christ Jesus.

The waxing on and the waxing off, of making up my mind about what group to belong to, and then turning it over to the other side, and back again in this excruciating process of indecision, was painful.

Third Conversion

But like Peter, I was to deny Jesus a third and final time, before he would look at me with infinite mercy and have me repeat to him “I love you”, my saviour and my King.

First Sign

After meeting with my friend from the other faith one workday afternoon, I came back to my office to find an email from someone I had been corresponding with. And I noticed for the very first time that she had a quotation beneath her signature. It read: “for your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds” Ps. 108:4. I contemplated it one piece at a time. “Your steadfast love is great above the heavens”. God’s steadfast love for me is great above the heavens, and so must be my steadfast love for Him. Yet, am I failing Him by thinking of converting away from my Christian faith? Is He reaching out to me again? “Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds”. Christ’s faithfulness to me reaches to the clouds. But is my faithfulness to Him reaching there too? I could not help but see the Christ in the quote, and myself in it too.

As I have written elsewhere, I see pairs an inordinate amount of times throughout the day, and I feel it is Christ showing me that He is with me each step of the day. The emails that came to me from the person in question were 12:12AM, and 1:11PM. And the reply I received from her staff came in at 1:14PM, another pair with the number 14 attached to it (I have already described the reappearance of the number 14 at significant points throughout my life).

Second Sign

The next morning, I had an appointment in the morning with a client. As I would soon find out, the client was a woman of great faith in Jesus. As we conversed, I said “thank God” as a colloquial expression in conversation. After a few “thank God’s”, she opened up to me. I am still in touch with this person and know her to be truthful and full of faith in Christ Jesus.

During our appointment, she told me about signs and wonders that she had experienced in the past. Although she was raised in the Catholic faith, she had not been terribly religious before she experienced the signs. This is her story.

On Good Friday (the day we commemorate Christ’s curcifixion), she would normally go to mass. But on one Good Friday, she was prompted to stay at church and pray. She prayed for 6 hours, weeping. She had no idea why she was crying, but she was overcome with grief, and with the feeling that she needed to pray. She felt as though her body was present, but her mind was not, as though she were having an out-of-body experience. 

The next day, while preparing food in her kitchen, she cut herself and bled on the counter top. The blood stained the counter and she could not get it out. The bloodstain had a unique looking shape, but she did not give it any thought.

The next day was Easter Sunday. While driving in her car on Heron Rd. in Ottawa she was hit by a truck and was plowed through three intersections. Her car resembled chewed bubble gum at the scene of the accident and the paramedics thought she had died. The passenger door was squished right up to the driver’s seat. She has since showed me a picture of the impounded car. She was not very religious at the time, but when she was rushed to the hospital she kept frantically telling the paramedics that Jesus would save her. They thought she had gone mad and tried to sedate her, but she insisted against it. She kept repeating “Jesus will save me, Jesus will save me!” “Sure He will, they appeared to think, “now let’s put the gas on this nut before she does herself anymore harm.” But she refused.

Once the x-rays had been administered, her doctors  informed her that her back had been broken in several places. She was unable to move her legs. Either she would be paralysed from the waist down for life, or her spine had swollen with the impact of the crash and it would heal in time. This woman, who hadn’t been all that spiritual, now prayed in her hospital bed to Jesus for Him to heal her.
She was utterly alone and cried in pain. At one point, she cried for water for she was thirsty, but no one came to her aid. So she crawled on the floor, dragging her legs behind her, to get herself a drink. She prayed and prayed and prayed that Christ would come and heal her. A day or so after being admitted to the hospital, she suddenly felt the pain in her back lift completely and vanish, as though someone had taken it away.

Soon thereafter, the doctors administered new x-rays. This time, the x-rays showed that the bones in her back had completely healed. The doctors at the Ottawa Hospital told her they were stupefied and asked her half-jokingly what supplements she was taking.

Some time after her accident, she went to a friend’s house for a visit. She noticed a picture with a shape that looked familiar. She asked her friend: “what is that shape in the picture?” It had piqued her curiosity, because it was the exact same shape as the blood that had stained her counter top. Her friend replied: “that is the precious blood of Jesus. It heals.”

The third sign that came to her came after the accident while she was deep in prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the light of a thick cylindrical candle. While praying, the candle, which stood in front of her, spontaneously burst into a great flame, and the candle turned into a shape resembling an icon of the Virgin Mary. She still has the candle, and she showed it to me. It has the shape of an icon of the Virgin Mary, with her arms to her sides, and her hands outstetched beside her thighs, draped in her dress. This I swear as God is my witness.

Christ said about the blind man he healed in the temple at Jerusalem that he was blind “so that the works of God might be made visible through him”.[15] I believe that this is also the meaning of my client’s experience. Because of the works of God made visible through her, I believed like I had never believed before in the power of Christ, as many do who hear her powerful story. And what was more, she was sharing this sacred message with me on the day after I had considered for the third time changing faiths and walking away from Christ as my Godhead and saviour. I was floored. It became crystal clear to me that Christ had healed her that she might be a testament to His glory and power for people like me to be set right with Christ through faith in Him as the one and only Son of God. And now He had arranged for her to be sent to me the day after I nearly walked away from Him. God had also given me “eyes to see, and ears to hear” by His good grace, and I could not deny Him. It was not through any credit to me that I finally understood in irrefutable fashion, given the previous signs and wonders that had occurred to me, that Christ was working in my life to bring me closer to Him at this pivotal point in my life, as I embarked my thirties, a professional vocation and as a burning desire was developing in me to serve God in the right faith community.

As I spoke more with my client, it became clear to me that she spoke with a measure of spiritual authority I had never witnessed in person before, for she was a true testament of someone who has a very intimate and personal closeness with Christ. As she continued to speak, she unveiled with precision the feelings and the struggle that were on my heart, without my needing to speak. Although it was the first time that I had ever witnessed it, I could tell the Holy Spirit was guiding her, and was prompting her to know and say the things that were on my heart. She said out of no where “I feel you are going through a deep and painful struggle right now,” and I explained to her the struggle of faith I was going through. I told her about all the signs I have just described that I had been witnessing in my day-to-day life. We talked about faith, Jesus’ healing power, and our love of Christ. And then she told me the following things.

She told me “Christ has blessed you so much by these signs. All faiths have something good to share, so share in them, but don’t change your roots. I feel Jesus is telling you through all of these signs and wonders not to change course, that He doesn’t want you to leave. Every religion is like a colour of the rainbow. You have your colour. Together they are beautiful, but you have your colour, don’t change. Jesus chose you and I in our respective families to lead each of our families towards Jesus by showing us His signs. We are the delegated few. You have been handpicked by Jesus through all of these signs.”

Before my visit with my client, I hadn’t understood the signs clearly. I could see clearly enough to understand that what was happening was really interesting and moving, but I was still too blind to see that Christ was really reaching out to me with clear signs and that this wasn’t all just something “that might be”, but that it was something critical, something to act on, now. I believe that Christ and the Holy Spirit sent my client my way to help me resolve the struggle I was having and to open my eyes once and for all. My eyes were like those of a frog, with the translucent layer of flesh over my eyes being pulled back, or like St. Paul, with the scales falling off his eyes. I was like the blind man of Bethsaida, whom it took Jesus two attempts to heal from his blindness.[16] I could partially see after the first two conversions with their signs and wonders, but like the blind man from Bethsaida, everything was foggy, and as it were “the men looked like trees.” But with my third conversion, I could see clearly Christ Jesus in my life, as Son of God and Messiah, calling me to join Him, as He had Simon and Andrew, James and John, and the other apostles.

There is a story we like to tell in my family. While riding, a man of great faith fell off his horse over a cliff and caught a branch on his way down. He cried to the Lord: “Save me!” as he clung from the branch. Then a man came by and shouted from atop the cliff: “Do you need help?” “No! the man replied, God is coming to save me!” so the man left. Then a woman came. She shouted: “Do you need help?” “No! the man replied again, “God is coming to save me!” Then another man came by and, like the first two, shouted: “Do you need help?” Again the man replied: “No! God is coming to save me!” Eventually, the man lost strength and fell to his death. Upon meeting God in heaven the man challenged God. He said: “God, I asked you to save me but you did not come!” God replied “I sent you three people!”

God acts in mysterious ways. The Holy Spirit had surrounded me with a full cast of people to keep me on God’s path with each of my conversions. My near conversions to another faith were the proximate cause for my three conversions to come closer to Christ and set Him squarely at the centre of my life like never before. God knows my soul, and in His great plan for me, He knew this was the way to get me to turn closer to Him.

If you desire the healing grace of Jesus, pray this simple prayer to him: Sacred Heart of Jesus, I welcome you into my life. Heal me with your love and grace. Show me the way to peace and fulfillment in You, the Holy Spirit, and our Heavenly Father. Amen.

[1] 1 Corinthians 13:11.

[2] 1 Corinthians 15:36.

[3] Matthew 16:25.

[4] Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII, 425.

[5] St. Augustine, Confessions.

[6] John 7:37-39. See also Revelations 21:6

[7] Matthew 6:21

[8] John 21:15. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

[9] Revelations 1:8, 21:6, 22:13.

[10] John 4:48

[11] A yoke in this context is a wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs, as oxen usually do (Wikipedia).

[12] Matthew 11:28-30. See notations in the NABRE: 11:28–29 These verses are peculiar to Matthew and are similar to Ben Sirach’s invitation to learn wisdom and submit to her yoke (Sir 51:23, 26). 11:28 Who labor and are burdened: burdened by the law as expounded by the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:4). 11:29 In place of the yoke of the law, complicated by scribal interpretation, Jesus invites the burdened to take the yoke of obedience to his word, under which they will find rest; cf. Jer 6:16.

[13] Luke 2:19.

[14] Of note, I began my law studies, which would change the direction of my life, in my champagne year, in 2011.

[15] John 9:3.

[16] Mark 8:22-26. Jesus’ actions and the gradual cure of the blind man probably have the same purpose as in the case of the deaf man (Mk 7:31–37). Some commentators regard the cure as an intended symbol of the gradual enlightenment of the disciples concerning Jesus’ messiahship (NABRE).

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