The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Love of Jesus and Jesus' Love

Many people are puzzled why Christians follow this radical rabbi from 2,000 years ago today. There are many reasons. Jesus stood up for all the disenfranchised people of his world: the sick (physically and mentally), the oppressed, the poor, women, children, the defenseless folks overlooked or actively scorned by society. Jesus stood up against the religious leaders of his day when they used the law to oppress their own people and make their lives easier. Jesus was no stranger to conflict and spoke up against societal wrongs, even and especially when it was unpopular to do so. Jesus taught to live by the spirit of the law (a gracious spirit of love coming from the God of love) rather than its letter. Jesus forgave those from the cross who had conspired against him and crucified him. He loved humanity and worked to bring about a new and different way of living together in the world. This is just the tip of a very large iceberg.

Experts tell us that the best way to convey what Jesus means is through personal experiences with Jesus. I'll provide you with an experience lived out and recorded by the 14th century religious woman, Julian, an anchoress who devoted her life to Jesus, lived in a church, and recorded an extraordinary set of visions she had when she was near death. She had prayed that she might suffer as Jesus had suffered to know him better. The prayer was answered and it nearly cost her life, but she had a series of visions about Jesus that transformed her life and has inspired Christians down through the ages. Let me pause here and say that in the "modern age" where scientific explanation reigns supreme, the mysticism presented here is hard for many to grapple with. Give it a chance. It might change your life.

Near death, priests placed a crucifix in Julian's direct line of sight and asked her to focus on that so that she might have a peaceful transition from life to afterlife. While she observed Jesus on the cross before her, an extraordinary vision came to her of Jesus dying on that cross. She states:

And I watched with all my might for the moment when Christ would expire, and I expected to see his body quite dead; but I did not see him so, and just at the moment when by appearances it seemed to me that life could last no longer, and that the revelation of his end must be near, suddenly as I looked at the same cross, he changed to an appearance of joy. The change in his blessed appearance changed min, and I was glad and joyful as I could possibly be. ... Then our good Lord put a question to me: Are you well satisfied that I suffered for you? I said: Yes, good Lord, all my thanks to you; yes, good Lord, blessed may you be. Then Jesus our good Lord said: If you are satisfied, I am satisfied. It is a joy, a bliss, an endless delight to me that ever I suffered my Passion for you; and if I could suffer more, I should suffer more. 
We worship and follow a leader who would, if necessary, sacrifice himself for each and every person throughout history, past, present, and future, to open the path for them to God and the joy that comes from a life lived close to the will of God, a life of joyous service to others, loving God and neighbors (check out the story of the Good Samaritan to find out how broad the definition of neighbor truly is). However, one trip to the cross was more than sufficient to show the love of God for humanity, even when we are at our very worst.

I wish you all a happy Easter and a blessed year to come.

For more on Julian, see her book: Julian of Norwich: Showings. My copy was published by The Classics of Western Spirituality: A Library of Great Spiritual Masters by Paulist Press, copyright 1978.

For another powerful experience, see:

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