In his new book Stories of Jesus: 40 Days of Prayer and Reflection, Joseph Girzone takes the reader on a vivid journey through the life of Jesus Christ. Rooted in the Gospels themselves, the book consists of forty meditations arranged in chronological order. By the end of the book you will have covered the entire life of Jesus by visiting some of the most important places and events during his 33 years on earth.
This is a very approachable and enjoyable meditation resource on the life of our Lord. Joseph’s writing style weaves an intimate portrait that makes you feel as if you are an eyewitness to the events as they are happening. This makes the book even that much better.
Each meditation starts with a passage from the Gospels specifically dealing with an event in the life of Christ. Many of the passages used are familiar but the meditation that follows shed light on each that may make you look at them from a different view. This to me is always an exciting thing to discover in this type of book. You will revisit the stories of the raising of the widow’s son, the calming of the storm, the transfiguration and the woman caught in adultery to name a few.
One example of how truly powerful the meditations can be is found in Day Six : Jesus Picks Humble Fishermen to Work with Him. “Yet God seems to delight in choosing the simple people of this world in order to embarrass or shame the proud and the brilliant. And so he chooses these humble fishermen. Watching over the next three years shows the difficulty Jesus had in training them, yet he is always patient and gentle in accepting them as they are with all their faults and challenging personalities…..Today, these blessed heroes of our faith are loved and venerated by all of us, and we can only hope that we can have the love, the loyalty, and the dedication to Jesus that this faithful band of apostles di as they spread Jesus’ message throughout the world”.
The story of the healing of the leper in Day 8 : Confronted by a Hideous Sight contained another great reflection. After Jesus healed the leper he “then told the man to go and show himself to the priest living in the area, offering the gift described by Moses as proof that he had been healed. The religious authorities despised Jesus, yet since that authority was established by his Father, he still showed the respect that was due, and so he directed the healed leper to honor the law. All of us today could benefit from this example of Jesus’ respect for religious authorities, when we do not approve of their behavior or their laws….Most of us would walk away if we were slighted or offended by the Church in any way, not realizing that in doing this we are renouncing our loyalty to Jesus – because the Church, not its priests and religious leaders, is the living presence of Jesus in our lives.” A powerful meditation indeed.
Included as well after each reflection is a brief prayer leading to further contemplation upon what was just read. The final one of which I found very moving. “Father, following Jesus through his life, I have come to a new and deeper understanding of his beauty and goodness and of the love he has for me and for all of us – even though we are so unworthy. I have come to understand that Jesus asks very little from us, only that we accept him as our friend and love him and care for one another. How simple! And yet how difficult! Father, please give me the grace not to disappoint him, who has given is all for me. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
I found this book of reflections on the life of Jesus to be quite good. Joesph Girzone has provided us with a powerful tool that leads the reader to a deeper understanding and appreciation for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is not only a book for Lent but a study worth the time put into it anytime of the year.
I received a copy of the book for this review from Franciscan Media.