Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sir, We Would Like to See Jesus

A committed Christian, sometime in his or her life, must wonder what it would be like to live in Jesus' time and meet Jesus face to face.

Of course, that's because we expect that meeting Jesus would be a deeply moving experience. We would be like little Zacarias whom Jesus calls down from the tree to have supper with or like the blind man whom Jesus cures. At the very least, we'd expect to witness a miracle.

But, not everyone who met Jesus had a deeply moving experience. Just ask the guy whose pigs Jesus sent flying off the cliff or the money lenders at the temple what their experience of Jesus was like.

I wonder alot about those money lenders. One of them had probably just gotten laid off at the matza factory and landed this gig in the temple. And along comes Jesus who knocks over the tables and sends him packing. When he explains all this to his boss, not only does he get fired, but he has to pay for the damages. Then, back at the temple, the worshippers have no one to borrow money or get pidgeons from, so they have to go to the money lenders outside the temple who are charging more now that Jesus waylaid their competition.

Anyway, with my luck, if I were to meet Jesus he'd probably call me a "viper" or a "hypocrite". Or, my experience of Jesus might be very ordinary, and I'd be stuck having to spend the rest of my life in first century Palestine.

I got a chance to meet Mother Theresa once, and I expected it to be very moving. But, she just looked at me and moved on to the next person. Don't get me wrong -- she was polite, but not moving. I imagine it must be hard when everyone expects you to give them a moving experience.

So, I think Jesus made a great point to Thomas when he said, "You believe because you see me. Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe." Two thousand years after the historical Jesus I can know Him through the Bible, through the teaching of the Church and through the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, I have the benefit of two thousand years of interpretation of the Scripture both by those who have taught it and by those who have lived it. And I don't have to wear a toga or eat camel meat.

That's good enough for me.

(originally appeared in

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