Vox Cantor tagged me to tell five things I love about Jesus. At this point I'm tempted to go all doctrinal, 'cause I like that stuff, but I'm going to try to keep this connected to my subjective experience.
- Jesus gives himself to me in the Eucharist. I can try to debate transubstantiation with my non-Catholic friends till the cows come home and the angels dancing on the head of a pin all need hip replacements, but in the end it's a great and wonderful mystery. Somehow, somehow, right there in that little wafer, that's God. Just for me, Jesus makes himself present, and the experience of receiving him is out of this world.
- Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Some years ago I went to the funeral of a friend who had been a very fine choral conductor. I don't remember which pieces of liturgical music the choir performed, magnificent as they were. I do know they sang "Jesus Loves Me." In other words, Jesus keeps calling me back to that simple, childlike trust. Very necessary for someone with intelleck-tu-al tendencies.
- Jesus is so incredibly imaginative. I mean, who else would have thought of saving his own mother before he was born? There's no end to the surprises and mysteries for me to contemplate.
- Jesus never gave up on me, even when I refused to talk to him, dragged his name through the mud, and slandered his friends. That's not even counting all the other things I did--and I'm not just talking about sex--that in my heart of hearts I knew would hurt him. Despite all that, he kept on loving me.
- Jesus brings out the best in people. I think of my friend Margaret, a former neighbour who now lives in a nursing home near Holy Family. She used to burble on about all sorts of things when we ran into each other on the street, and in that, she hasn't changed much. Her apparently aimless chatter used to drive me a little bit batty. But you know, in five or six years I've never once heard her utter a bitter remark about anything or anybody--and lest anyone wonder whether she's secretly harbouring all sorts of nastiness that she's too polite to let show, let's just say she doesn't appear to have the wherewithal to keep a single thought to herself. She is truly one of the pure of heart.
Do I have to stick to just five?
- Jesus answers when I call his name. He told us he would be with us to the end of the age, and it's true. Praying gives me a surge of ... energy? comfort? connectedness? (The feeling, which is certainly physical as well as spiritual, would be in the back of the neck if I had to localize it.) Having a good friend drape his arm around my shoulder provides a similar reassurance, only this is better. And while ordinary human friends aren't always around when I want them, Jesus is always ready and waiting.
- Jesus is a little like one of those buttons that patients in hospital press to administer themselves a dose of painkiller--only he isn't an opiate of the masses, to use Marx's famous phrase. Jesus doesn't dull the pain. What he does is make the pain bearable.
- Jesus keeps me from doing stupid things--when I'm sensible enough to pay attention to him.
- When I do screw up, which happens on a regular basis, I go tell Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that I'm sorry I hurt him, and he leaves me feeling so light. And the crazy thing is, it doesn't exactly matter whether it's an embarrassingly petty sliver or a great beam that has to be extracted: if I sit still and let the Great Physician do his work, I come away feeling like a new man. The more honest I am with him, the more tenderly he holds me. How amazing is that!
- Jesus--and here I mean the real living Jesus of historic Christian revelation, not the clunky marionette that modernists have fashioned in their own image to jump whenever they pull the strings--inspires awesome music and art. Which would you rather listen to, Handel's Messiah or his Nice Guy Who Preached a Couple of Memorable Sermons and then Got Executed for No Very Good Reason? Funnily enough, Handel didn't bother to write the latter. Anyway, you gotta admire someone that nourishes such rich human creativity. (Of course, being the source of all goodness, Jesus inspires what is good even in art that has no explicit Christian content whatever. I tell you, the man is everywhere!)
I'll tag felix hominum, Fr Dwight at Standing on My Head, Belinda at Whatever He Says, CourageMan, and Deborah Gyapong. Since I've gone over my five in one area, let me also tag Fr Jim at Dappled Things and Shelray as backups.
Those tagged will share 5 things they love about Jesus and must tag 5 other bloggers. Those tagged must provide a link in the comments box here with their name so that others can read them.
David, thank you so much for getting me started on this exercise. I needed it.