Thursday, January 15, 2015

What Was It About Jesus?

By Colleen O’Sullivan

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home.  Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them.  They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him.  After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”  (Mark 2:1-5)

For your nearness I am hoping
For your nearness Lord I long
Have no need of any other
I have found where I belong
Yes, I have found where I belong
(from Draw Me Nearer, lyrics by Meredith Andrews)

People come home every day – from shopping, from school, from work – and no crowds gather at their doors.  So what was it about Jesus?  The moment word got out that he was back in Capernaum, he was besieged with visitors!  I’ve often wondered what it was about him that so attracted others.  All he had to do was visit someone’s place of work, like a boat at the edge of the sea, and he would have that person leaving it all behind to follow him.
I thought about this a couple of years ago when John Michael Talbot came for a 3-day mission at my parish.  I went the first night because I love his music and hoped to hear him play the guitar and sing, and also because I was curious about what led him to embrace his lifestyle and found the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage in Berryville, Arkansas.  I got the music I was longing for.  I left not knowing much more about his life story than I knew going in.  But when I walked out of that church, I felt like I might have had a glimpse of what it was about Jesus that captivated others and won their hearts.  John Michael Talbot was one of the most convincing speakers I’ve ever heard.  He spoke from his heart and with great sincerity.  His joy-filled faith and love for God shone forth in every sentence.  He had my undivided attention to such an extent that had he asked me to do something, I think I would have said yes with no hesitation.
Maybe that’s what Jesus was like.  When people looked into his eyes, perhaps they saw reflected there the great love, compassion and mercy God has for all of us.  Maybe what Jesus preached had that firm ring of conviction that struck a chord with his listeners.  People may have gathered round because they felt themselves in the presence of holy joy.  Perhaps they found healing and forgiveness with Jesus, as did the paralytic in today’s Gospel reading.  Whatever it was, people wanted to be with him.
Mark tells us that the paralytic and his friends wanted to see Jesus so badly they climbed up on the roof of the house where he was, knocked a hole in it and got to the Lord in that dramatic manner.

What about you?  How much do you long to experience Jesus’ presence?  He’s always there waiting for us.  All we need to do is carve out some quiet time and open the eyes and ears of our hearts to see and hear him. 
If you’re having difficulty praying, you might want to consider spiritual direction.  If you’re thinking about doing that, a good, short article to read can be found on the dotMAGIS blog at

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