Met Jesus By Bo Sanchez
As a kid, I remember my dad putting his arm around my shoulder and saying, “You’re my favorite son.”
“Gee, Dad, thanks,” I’d say, feeling wonderful. Until I found out he didn’t have much choice. I was his only son.
But I’m the youngest with five older sisters.
He used to joke me, “I almost named you Atlas. Because when the doctor said I had a boy, I said, ‘At last!’”
Mom and Dad were very Catholic. Together with my evil sisters, er . . . I mean my elder sisters, we went to Mass, wore a scapular, prayed the rosary with the family every night, and learned religion in a Catholic school. So I knew about Jesus. Sort of. But something radical happened when I was twelve years old.
It was another Friday night, and my mother invited me to their little Catholic prayer meeting. For the past six months, my parents and sisters had been attending something weird on Friday night. They’d go home with stories of how people prayed in tongues, got healed, received miracles. Really strange.
But even as kid, I knew something was happening to them. First, I noticed my sisters were different. They were kinder to their cute and lovable brother. Second, my entire family was excited about God. I never saw that happen before. They kept talking about Jesus like He was real.
But one day, they wanted to pull me into their weird stuff. It was nice just watching them from a distance as they went through this transformation, but when my mom wanted me to join them, I told her, “Sorry, Mom, I’m too young to give my life to God. Besides, isn’t this thing for old people and women?”
In my mind, I thought to myself, “Gee, I haven’t yet puffed my first cigarette, haven’t tasted my first bottle of beer, haven’t had a girlfriend. Perhaps when I get older, I’ll attend that prayer meeting.”
Like when I’ll be seventy-five years old.
My First Prayer Meeting
My father, however, was a stubborn man. He said, “If Bo doesn’t want to go to the prayer meeting, we’ll bring the prayer meeting to Bo.”
I didn’t know what he meant by that.
After praying the rosary one night as a family, Dad stood up and said, “We’re going to have a prayer meeting right now.”
“Jeepers, Dad. It’s Starsky and Hutch on TV!” (Yes, that’s how old I am.)
“Sit!” my father commanded, and so I did. He then asked all of us to close our eyes and hold our hands together. Naturally, holding hands with my older sisters was a nightmare for a twelve-yearold boy. Clowning around, I closed only one eye, curious at what my father will do next.
I was expecting another barrage of formula prayers, like “Our Father” and “Hail Mary,” but Dad simply talked to God from his heart. I looked at the peace on my father’s face and realized he actually believed God was listening to him.
Was God really there in front of him? Didn’t the Almighty have more important things to do than be in our living room?
I didn’t want to admit it, but praying with Dad made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
However, lest my family discover that I was being “touched,” I tried to make my face as stiff and angry as possible.
That was when the most unpredictable thing happened. My dad saw my stony face, stood up, and casually placed his hand on top of my head. He then said, “In Jesus’ name, devil, get out!”
What did he say? The devil was in me?
Actually, Dad didn’t know what he was doing. He just wanted me to get closer to God and he was willing to try anything—including imitating TV evangelists in their exorcisms.
As if reading my thoughts, everyone in the family stretched their arms toward me and shouted in unison, “Amen!
But because he was very new in this whole thing, he started committing mistakes.
“In Jesus’ name, devil, get out!” he said again and again. And then the big blunder came when he said, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, get out! Get out! Get out!”
My mother was the first to discover the great heresy that was happening, so she elbowed him hard and said, “Your prayer is all wrong! You’re asking Jesus to go out!” (That happened many, many years ago. For the next six years, my father still felt a dull pain on his lower left rib cage.)
So my father’s face turned white, and in panic, said to the family, “Quick! Let’s pray again! Let’s pray again!”
“Jesus,” he implored out loud, “come back!”
OK, I exaggerated the story to make you laugh.
Here’s what really happened: After my first ever prayer meeting with my family, I asked, “Dad, what happened to you?”
He said, “I came to know God personally.” He paused for a second as if searching for how to explain himself, and then asked me, “Do you know Ferdinand Marcos?”
I frowned. “Of course, I know him. He’s the president of the Philippines.”
Dad shook his head. “Nope, you don’t know him.”
“Yes, I do! He lives in Malacañang and comes from Ilocos and his wife’s name is Imelda.”
“If you really know him,” my father smiled,
“do you pick up the phone and dial his number and say, ‘Ferdie, are we playing golf today?’”
I got his point.
He went on, “You don’t know him. You know about him. And that’s what happened in my faith. There was a time when I knew about God. Today, I know Him.”
My life has never been the same since that day.
My Mission and Passion
So growing up as a teen, Jesus became real to me. He wasn’t just some dusty historical figure. Or a faraway deity sitting on the throne, oblivious to what was happening to me.
I came to know Jesus as the God who loved me perfectly and completely. The God who knew me through and through, including all my weaknesses, and still accepted me, treasured me, and celebrated me. The God who was involved in my daily struggles, no matter how tiny or trivial they were.
I realize that all the Catholic stuff I did as a kid
was a beautiful foundation. And the moment I got to know Jesus, I began to understand my Catholic faith. And little by little, I discovered its depths.
So for the past forty years, my mission and passion has been to invite all Catholics to encounter this person named Jesus.
Through this book, I invite you to discover Him, and in the process, discover how beautiful and amazing your Catholic faith is.
Without Jesus, the Church is a human organization—nothing else. Its doctrines and its rituals will never give you life. But because of Jesus, the Church becomes the living Body of Christ, and she becomes life-giving.
In this book, I share with you the ten biggest reasons why I love being Catholic. There are many more reasons, but for this book, I chose the ones closest to my heart.
Through this book, may you meet Jesus and follow Him forever.
*This excerpt is taken from Why I Love Being Catholic By Bo Sanchez, available on paperback and e-book copy at http://www.feastbooks.ph!