Friday, May 29, 2015

Jesus Saves

Jesus saves.

I know; you've heard it a million times, right? It's not like you'd ever say "Who cares?" but sometimes -- even if you only admit it to yourself -- in the back of your mind you wonder: "So what?"

I think about this often. The people of Jesus' time were so amazed at Him. Some were afraid, some felt threatened, others found hope. People would travel for miles -- literally -- in the hope of touching his shirt -- literally. We hear the stories of the man whose friends tore a hole in a roof in order to lower him down to Jesus, the woman with the  hemorrhage who dreamed of only ever touching the hem of His garment, the Samaritan woman who was so astounded by His words she went and told everyone in town...the list goes on. 

Jesus transformed, Jesus terrified, Jesus uplifted, and Jesus unsettled. Jesus was so wildly loved that His Apostles were consistently frazzled trying to keep Him safe from pressing crowds; He Himself often retreated into solitude and silence to avoid crowds. He was so powerful that He stirred a deep and unshakeable fear in the hearts of the religious elite of His time, so much so that they convinced a mob to elect to kill Him. He performed miracles. He made wild claims. He boldly proclaimed a kingdom, a dawn of hope, and a coming judgment -- and onlookers hung on every word.

When He died, the sky turned black and the earth shook under the weight of His cross. When He rose again, His disciples couldn't decide between being afraid and being overjoyed.

He was shocking. He was amazing. He was groundbreaking.

Jesus was not boring.

And yet we find ourselves more bored than in awe at the sacrifice of the Mass. After we manage to survive sitting through prophecies and foreshadowings of the Incarnate Love of God and a ten minute sermon about it, Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, who was slain at Calvary, is presented to us on the altar. And we're thinking about what sounds good for lunch.

It is beyond my comprehension why God would become so small and humble that He becomes bread. Bread, of all things. Sure, bread is a staple in our lives, but it's probably one of the most simultaneously overlooked and taken for granted staples we have. We much prefer steak and potatoes and cauliflower and chicken, don't we? But bread. He chooses bread.

But then again, God is beyond my comprehension. I am learning to stop analyzing Him and to start worshipping Him. And the humility of this moment strikes me:

"This is my Body, given up for you."

The most important words ever uttered by a human being that will ever be heard by human beings met with snot bubbles and yawns. We don't care. Why don't we care? Why don't I care?

Why don't I care that the Man who has saved my life in a very real and tangible way wants to consummate a physical and spiritual union with me by giving me Himself as bread to eat in order to give me a share in His divine life? He pours Himself out in love, over and over again, and as I'm writing this I wonder if it's something like a mother and her baby.

God help me, I have the attention span of a fly (do flies have attention spans?). I go to Mass every Sunday and try -- I try, guys -- to focus and listen and take in the grace which overflows in abundance from the chalice and the host. And every. time. I'm lost, thinking about something else.

But Jesus remains wholly focused on me. He has heard my cries from the past week from heaven and He now comes down to meet me and soothe me. First, He comforts me with words. Through the opening strains of the Mass and through the readings, it's almost like He is trying to calm me; "Be still; I'm coming; I'm here now; I've got you." And all the while, perhaps I'm still screaming, at least in my mind. Itching, restless, searching, yearning. Unfulfilled. Discontent. And He meets me there. And He gives me His flesh, His life, for food. I am nourished by His body, whether I'm paying attention or not, and for a short while after Communion He holds me even while my mind wanders.

Maybe I'll never know why we're so distracted. I'll probably never know why I'm so distracted. I may never be able to fix it, but I do know one thing is for sure:

Jesus saves, even when I'm not paying attention.

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