Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Only the Lonely

When I was away from the Church and not practicing any kind of religion, one of the things that I loved to pontificate on was the fact that so many Christians were holding themselves to the standard set by Jesus. I scoffed that it was impossible, and that Christians should focus on the actuality that Jesus was human and not just God. While I recognized that it was an ideal to strive for, I saw it as just an ideal. As I have come back to the Church, it’s still something that I struggle with in a way. In fact, Jesus is something I struggle with. Okay, I know that sounds weird, and it could be that I have a weird association with Him. I think of Him in a few ways: the goofy high-school counselor who just wants to hug it out; the hippy-dippy goody two-shoes always telling us to love one another; the source of all those obnoxious televangelists who apparently is waiting for me somewhere in the ether, promising me health and happiness and anything my heart desires as long as I donate now. I never had these problems with God, and certainly not with Mary or any single Saint (well, St. Therese a little bit.) Don’t get me wrong, I never questioned the reality of Jesus or what He did, but more the idea of him. I think it’s Jesus’ dual nature that gives me the hang-up. Sure, it’s easy to be a nice person and turn the other cheek when you’re also God and perfected in nature. As mush as I didn’t like people focusing on just His divine nature, I had the hardest time thinking of Him as being human in any way. And so, I just sort of distanced myself from thinking about Him at all.

Lately, though, I have found myself really focusing on a couple of things about Jesus.
I always find myself feeling really bad for Jesus during the Agony of the Garden. It’s so sad to think that He asked His friends to stay awake with Him and they couldn’t even do it. Granted, they probably had no idea what was about to happen, but He did. He needed support and not one person could give that to Him. How many times have you spent a sleepless night, worrying about something you knew was going to happen? And that something is never, ever a brutal death by execution. I think the thing that gets me here is that Jesus shows Himself as a flawed human, even if just for a moment. He actually asks God the Father to take the fate away from Him, if it’s possible. Jesus knew that He was the Son of God. He knew that He was not going to die, and that many of the people who doubted Him would believe. But He was still scared. It seems to me that at that moment, Jesus had a hard time trusting that His Father would provide, would protect. This seems more poignant at Lent, knowing that Jesus was about to go out and die for me, someone who wanted to ignore him.
totally inappropriate- yet somehow fitting

This passage is where the Catholic notion of a holy hour comes from. We are asked to spend at least an hour with the Blessed Sacrament—Jesus. I heard something on the radio not too long ago from Fr. Antoine Thomas who teaches children to go to adoration. He told a little girl who was about to make her first Communion that she should spend time in adoration. He said that she should ask her parents to take her because Jesus was lonely. Again, a human emotion for someone who I previously wanted to think of as human, but just couldn’t. It hit me all of a sudden though, when I heard it. I thought about the state of the Faith across the country. I thought about how our Cathedral in Denver was three quarters empty on a Sunday and I later found out there were only 600 registered families. It struck me that Jesus really is lonely. He knew what He did, we know what He did and yet, so many of us can’t be bothered to stay with him for an hour once a week. I became so grateful at that moment for the gift of faith that I have been given, even if I fight it sometimes and can’t always wrap my mind around it. 


  1. I think about the Agony in the Garden a lot, too; especially during Holy Week. Sometimes I think it can be hard to relate to the Passion because it's a such different experience from most what people have endured, but the abandonment of those we care about that Our Lord felt is something most of us have experienced on some level. And it can be terribly painful. I find relating to God in that way much more helpful than the "look at what your sins did" type of meditations that some people seem to like. It's true that Jesus was perfect but He did feel normal human things like fear and, like you said, loneliness.

  2. I had never thought of a Holy Hour in that way before. Thank you! I have also struggled in the past with trying to understand Jesus' being all God and all man at the same time. Truly, it is something we can never fully get our heads around because it such a sublime reality. But it was through a college Christology class that it became clearer to me. I encourage you to check out some of the literature about this (orthodox, of course) and to really pray about it. What an incredible mystery to meditate on!

    Have a blessed Holy Week and a wonderful Easter!!

  3. This is so Honest, and beautiful...thank you. It's one of the most amazing things about our God that He took on the very same flesh we have, that he had our emotional, psychological, physical stuff to wade throigh, because all humans do... That he knew all that and still said yes...
    Keep seeking to know him more deeply, and I bet you'll also find all the beautiul places where your heart meets His.
    ( and ps...go for that MA in theology... You can do it!)

  4. As Christine said, what a wonderfully honest post.. I appreciate that a lot.

    When I think of Jesus as being God and man, something that helps me understand it as best I can is that, when God became man, it was like the consummation of a Marriage. In all of the Old Testament, God is preparing His Bride, humanity, for marriage in the "person" of Israel. That's the bottom-line message that creeps in through the Prophets: God is and will marry Himself to you forever. That's the level of intimacy with which God loves us, actually, more intimate even than marriage; but marriage is the best picture we have of it. When Mary was immaculately conceived, that the final purification, the final wedding-gown that God gave Israel in the person of Mary, preparing her to be the one who could adequately welcome God. And then, when God became man, He consummated that Marriage by becoming both spiritually and physically united to us in the person of Jesus.

    When you look at Jesus, try thinking of Him as Divine Husband, because that is who He is. He is man, but that humanity is not a humanity of moral weakness and sin like we tend to think about humanity, which is why I think it's difficult to understand Him sometimes. But remember that He is the God that loved you so much that He not only died for you, but even before that, is absolutely united to you physically and spiritually for all eternity, out of sheer love. Love desires intimacy, and that is what Jesus *is* in His very being, outpouring Love that desires intimacy. That is what the Eucharist is, for that matter; it goes to the very heart of being Catholic.


Go ahead and weigh in. As Chesterton once said "Thinking in isolation and with pride ends in being an idiot."