The Happy Priest on Living Faith: Loving God is the Greatest Romance
Our relationship with Jesus is a personal relationship; a love relationship of two persons
Only the open can believe and see. Only those who listen can follow. In order to follow, we need to listen. When we are completely open, the Holy Spirit floods our souls with his loving and peaceful presence. He cannot enter locked doors and windows that he cannot open. God respects our freedom. Only the open can believe and see.
The simplicity and peacefulness of the hidden life of Jesus has ended. It is replaced by intense apostolic activity.
The quiet of the carpenter shop, the conversations with Mary and Joseph, and the comfort of long intervals of prayer will soon be only cherished memories. Every word he utters will bring a response.
As we make our way to another Ash Wednesday and the austerity of Lent, the liturgy will help us to understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
"So often today man does not know what is within him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life" (Blessed Pope John Paul, homily, October 22, 1978).
Had Jesus of Nazareth been a Roman or a Greek, certainly his contemporaries would have left behind statues in his honor. However, because the Jews had a strict understanding of idolatry, their interpretation of the Mosaic Law did not allow them to make any images whatsoever of any human person. It would have been interesting if we had been left something that would illustrate the physical attributes of the Lord.
Throughout the centuries, there has been much discussion on the subject. The Shroud of Turin and Veronica's veil tell us a lot about his Middle Eastern features; however, our faith is best served by depending on the one authenticated source, the Gospels.
The accounts written by the Evangelists depict Our Lord's great capacity for physical activity. The long hours spent at hard work in the carpenter shop had prepared him well for the grueling task of his public ministry.
He walked many miles under the blazing Middle Eastern sun in order to preach the Kingdom of God. He slept many nights under the stars, and he spent much of that time in the bliss of silent prayer. He found little time to eat because of the multitudes seeking his healing touch, and yet when he did find time to rest, he slept so profoundly that not even a terrible storm could awaken him.
His body was strong and so was his soul. During the hours of tribulation in Gethsemane, he persevered in profound prayer while the apostles slept. When Joseph of Arimathea requested his body for burial, Pilate was surprised to discover that Jesus had died so quickly. Pilate knew that he had encountered a strong Galilean.
Jesus did not display his divinity in the manner of the mythical figures of Greek and Roman literature. He did not fly from place to place as though he were some sort of superman. Amazingly, in him the supernatural and the natural were interwoven. His divinity seemed so simple and normal.
No mysterious beams of light, flashes of lightning, or peals of thunder occurred as he performed his miracles. Instead, it was enough for him to touch, or be touched.
Only once did he show the magnificence of his divinity before a select group of apostles. Even then, during the transfiguration, the experience was brief, simple, and discreet.
Aside from his physical attributes, Jesus knew exactly what he wanted. He was one with his mission. Everything that he did proceeded from his passionate desire to fulfill the will of the Father.
Unlike the complicated discourse of many philosophers and religious leaders, Our Lord's teaching is simple and easy enough for everyone to understand. However, the message is so clear and precise that his words are irresistible to all those who listen.
Who is this man that has divided history into two parts? Who is this man that has divided nations? Who is this man for whom many of his followers have given their lives rather than deny him?
What do we need to do in order to truly know Christ Jesus? Above all, we must be open. We need to listen.
In this Sunday's gospel narrative, two individuals heard the proclamation of John the Baptist: "Behold, the Lamb of God. The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus" (John 1: 36-37).
In order to follow, we need to listen.
Far too many people attempt to live Christianity based upon their own terms. They do not come to the Lord with open minds and hearts. Far too many remove pages from the Scriptures and reduce Christianity to their own comfort level. When we are completely open, the Holy Spirit floods our souls with his ...
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