Joseph Ratzinger, before he was Pope Benedict XVI, wrote many learned books on theology and liturgy. But I wasn’t surprised that when he began publishing books as pope, they were about Jesus of Nazareth and the joy of knowing Christ.
I spend a lot of time planning liturgy and writing sermons. But when I really sit down to meditate and pray, what repeatedly comes to my mind and heart is a simple thought, “Jesus, I really love Jesus.”
We can get really wrapped up in our Holy Week observances. We can get focused on the palms, or the foot-washing, or the stripping of the altars, or the processional cross or the new fire of the Easter Vigil, or the flowers and the Easter hymns.
But at the center of it all is Jesus Christ.
Have I mentioned that I simply love Jesus? And that I am in awe, whenever I ponder it, of Jesus Christ’s profound love of the world.
I was talking today with a friend about the definition of perfection. Sometimes we use the word in an oppressive way, tying it to morals and behavior. Perfect is as perfect behaves.
But Jesus’ perfection is of a different sort. Outwardly Jesus was perceived by many as a sinner with loose morals and questionable behavior. He hung out with prostitutes and let women wash his feet with their hair. He failed to pay taxes and let other claim he was the Son of God.But what he called himself was “The Human One.” His perfection, if you can call it that, was in fully giving himself away, being found fully in human form. His divinity is in his self-sacrificial love. Jesus was so much like God that he could only be found in humanity.
I don’t know how to say this the right way. It can come across as highly subjective and emotional, and I do not want to imply that the only way to know or love Jesus is through simple emotion.
But I will confess that when I try to write even this simple blog post about Jesus, and think about who Jesus is for me, I start tearing up. It’s overwhelming.
So many people I know love Jesus. My Muslim friends love Jesus. My Hindu friends love Jesus. My atheist friends love Jesus. My Buddhist friends love Jesus.
We all get tied up in how we are different, yet if we pause we all realize how united we are in our love of Jesus. And we are united by his love of us. Him, the human one, the one who was human first, and religious as a distant second.
There’s so much more to say about Jesus. There’s liturgy to discuss. There are theological conundrums to ponder. Jesus is as much for the mind as he is for the stomach and the heart.
But this week, as much as possible, I pray to stay centered in him. There’s just something about Jesus.