Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Why I love Jesus+5+meme

Owen Swain tagged me in this, so here I go.

"The rules" say, "Those tagged will share 5 things they 'love' about Jesus / Or why they love Jesus. Those tagged will tag 5 other bloggers. Those tagged will provide a link in the comments section here with their name so that others can read them."

It's an interestingly difficult question to answer, "Why I love Jesus?" I suppose it's akin to asking me why I love my wife, and telling me to limit my response to five points. How does one accurately convey the fullness of their love, and the full reasons for their love, in this manner? It will, I think, either come across as somewhat of an abstract theological discourse or pious "Sunday School" cliché, or else sound a lot like "These are five things that Jesus has done for me that I particularly happen to like." One seems impersonal, while the other seems somehow selfish. So faced with these limitations (whether limitations of reality, or just of my own writing ability), I will attempt to answer Why I love Jesus. in the process, maybe, you'll get to know the guy behind the blog a little better.

I love Jesus because He first loved me.
Right off the bat, I begin with one of those clichés. The thing about clichés, though, is that they usually become clichés precisely because they're true. The only reason that any of us could love Jesus is precisely because He loved us first. His love for us is what prompted Him to come to us and dwell among us. It's what prompted Him to become just a little baby, to make Himself loveable. It's what led Him to teach us about the Father, to make us understand Him. It's what drove Him to the Cross, to prove His love for us. It's what brought about the Resurrection, that He would not be separated from us. If He had not loved me first, I would not have known Him to love Him.
I love Jesus because He is always ready to forgive.
Having just celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday (May 1st of this year), I am reminded again of the depth of the mercy of Jesus. No matter how much I turn my back on Him, no matter how often I reject His grace, no matter how stubbornly I choose to go my own way, He gently calls me back to Him. And when I feel that there's no way He'd ever take me back, He assures me that He will. Moreover, through His Church, He's given me a concrete way of knowing this with certainty. Even if and when I feel that He could never forgive me, through the Sacrament of Confession which He has given His Church, I can actually hear Him physically tell me those words, spoken through His priest, "I absolve you of your sins."

As often as I'm willing to humble myself and turn to Him, He is waiting for me with open arms to welcome me home.
I love Jesus because He makes Himself Really Present to me.
Jesus Himself desires intimacy with me, with all of us, and so is always present to us, waiting for me to turn to Him and be with Him. Ever-present, He is never more than a thought or a sigh away, listening and acting. Even when I do not perceive Him, He has guaranteed His presence--and this is nowhere more exemplified than in the Holy Eucharist, in which He is bodily Present under the signs of bread and wine. Before the Blessed Sacrament, I can sit in wonder of the humble God who desires me, and in Communion I take Him into myself and am united to Him. "I look at Jesus, and He looks back at me."
I love Jesus because He has given me a Family.
It's been taking me a while to get around to writing this. I started it on April 25th, and immediately afterward got pretty busy with Easter, as well as my wife's birthday and my own, and mother's day. Yesterday happened to be my mom's birthday, as well, so that's kept us busy. May's just a busy time. But business is a typical experience with family. As I think about the family that Jesus has given to me, I recognise that that family exists on several levels, and ironically, none of them are biological.

As I've said elsewhere on this blog, I'm adopted. For whatever reason, my biological mother felt that she was incapable of raising me, and so I was given to my adoptive parents, who raised me as their own son--and truly, I am. All through my life I've seen the hand of Jesus in this, as they raised me to know and to love Him. In that knowing and loving Jesus, I was adopted once more, into His family, in which He is my Older Brother, and His Father becomes my Father, and the rest of His brothers and sisters, the Church, become my brothers and sisters as well, and His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, becomes my spiritual Mother, too. Through this Church, I received the Sacrament of Matrimony through marrying my wife, and so began an entirely new family within the family of God.

Since beginning this article, though, I discovered that, once more, a biological family seems not to be in God's plan for my wife and me. Outside of miraculous intervention (which I'm not ruling out!), I find that I am incapable of producing children. And yet, as my priest reminded me, Jesus promised in the Gospel that those who give up family for the sake of the Kingdom will receive a hundredfold in return. Despite the crushing disappointment, I choose to love and to trust Him, and I offer up that very pain and disappointment to Him, and wait in hopeful anticipation of the Family that He has yet to give me--whatever form that may take.

It's not easy--but then, love never is.
I love Jesus because He is good to me.
Now this final reason seems, perhaps, a little odd coming off of the revelation in the last reason. For a couple who wants children to the degree that my wife and I do, the discovery that this is apparently not possible doesn't seem like a "good" thing that Jesus has done to us. Yet, when I look over my life, from the blessing of being adopted, to the love and support of a great family and friends, to my general good health, and on and on, how can I deny that God has been good to me in the conventional sense? But even more so, through the eyes of faith, I recognise the goodness of God even in my hurt and pain. A saint once said that there are three primary graces that Jesus gives to us: the grace of Conversion, by which we come to know Him; the grace of Sanctification, by which we become like Him; and the grace of Suffering, which unites us with Him. For we truly come to know our Suffering Saviour more intimately, and are more fully united to Him, in our own suffering, provided that we offer that suffering up to Him. "And we know," says St. Paul, "that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28). It sounds like another cliché, perhaps, until you find yourself in that particular "thing" that at first glance seems like it's not good for you at all.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "And for all things give thanks; this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus" (NJB). Growing up Pentecostal, I heard all sorts of takes on this verse (which some other translations render "Give thanks in all circumstances..."), supposing it to mean that we're always to be grateful to God, no matter what's happening, but not necessarily be thankful for what's happening. And yet, due to the Church's teaching of Redemptive Suffering, that even the "bad" things in our lives can be offered up to God in order to bring about great results in our own souls, in our families, or in the world as a whole, we truly can give God thanks for all things. This is the ultimate expression of faithful surrender, of hopeful trust, and of absolute love of Jesus Christ.

"O my Jesus, I offer my suffering for love of You, for the conversion of poor sinners, and in reparation for offences against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

So now I have to tag 5 people. I'll give my good friend Joey Goodwin something to blog about. Theophilus, a recent convert and expert in philosophy, gets a shout out. My homeboy and son in the faith, Eric can have a writing challenge, too, for his tragically outdated blog. Same with Hidden One. Finally, just for being a thorn in my side so often, I'm going to let Kane kick against the goads of this meme, too.

God bless,


Joey said...

Let's try this again...

Kane Augustus said...

Hey, bud!

I never did write in to answer your meme-tag, or whatever happens to be the best way to truncate what you did (!). Please accept my apology for neglecting your attempt at friendly communication.

In any case, why do I love Jesus? Because he was a human being deserving of love. That's the simplest way to put it, really. There's no reason not to love another human being, no matter how wicked or eccentric their life may prove to be. At the heart of every human being is a dignified creature deserving of love. In the case of Jesus, he was a beautiful man sincerely interested in sharing his wisdom with others. Who couldn't love a man like that?

Yeah, despite my lack of need for salvation, I still love Jesus: he was a kindly, loving man, and his effect is still felt through the centuries. Men like Jesus fuel the motor of the world: he is loveable because of that.


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