WHO JESUS IS
1975 WAS FOLLOWED BY a holiday appearance
of John Paul Young at Miami's Great Hall on Australia's Gold Coast. Like
so many pop stars, J.P.Y. shone for a while, faded and now is largely forgotten.
How many of you remember much about Col joy, The Shadows, Judy Stone, Chubby
Checker, The Seekers --- all "stars" of yesterday?
THESE WORDS ARE ABOUT A PERSON who never fades (hardly, he's the Light of the World), a Person who never goes out of date (he's the Joy of every human heart), a Person who demands that we love and serve him (or else!). He is our Greatest Friend in Life: JESUS CHRIST.
DEPENDING ON WHICH EYE YOU USE (and it's best to use both most of the time), Jesus is like $10,000,000 or like "Jaws". Imagine someone is knocking at the door of your classroom. Your teacher opens the door and hears Jesus say: "I'm looking for ........" ( = you ). "I want to give him/her $10,000,000" ( = true happiness and peace in this life and happiness unlimited in the life to come ). How could anyone refuse such an offer? Only a very silly person could ignore or reject such a tremendous gift and say "so what; can't be bothered; doesn't concern me; tell him I'm not here".
ON THE OTHER HAND IMAGINE YOU ARE sitting on a surfboard 200 metres from shore and someone shouts to you: "Head for the beach; JAWS is in the next wave". How could anyone say "so what; can't be bothered; doesn't concern me; tell him I'm not here"? Only a maniac would say such a thing --- shortly before being turned into shark salad. Well, that is what ignoring and rejecting Jesus is like. If we refuse to give him a hearing and to accept him, then someday he will utterly crush us. (see Luke 20.18).
"Without Jesus, no one understands life". --- Thomas a'Kempis.
"Young people: seek Christ in order to remain young". --- St. Augustine.
"Because of Christ, I have come to consider all the advantages I had as disadvantages. Not only that, but I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ". --- St. Paul (Phil. 3.7-8).
"Ignorance consists in knowing many things without knowing Christ". --- Thomas a'Kempis.
"Friendship with Jesus is the greatest possession of youth. Never give it up". --- Pope Paul VI
"The police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, "Why haven't you brought him?" The police replied, "There has never been anybody who has spoken like him". .. .. .. .. --- John 7.45-46
"Never tire of hearing him spoken of, never weary of it. No subject ought to be dearer to us and none can be more useful". --- Abbot Marmion
"The material universe is like a code from God --- to which Christ holds the key . . . As far as I'm concerned it's Christ or nothing". --- Malcolm Muggeridge
"Jesus is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the centre of the human race, the joy of every heart, and the answer to all its yearings". --- Vatican Council II.
"Jesus is that truth which we are seeking; Jesus is that life of which we have need". --- Pope Paul VI
"Jesus is the Teacher of Mankind . . . He is the One who knows us and who loves us; He is the companion and the friend of our life. He is the man of sorrows and of hope." --- Pope Paul VI
"When we have found Jesus he begins to challenge us
to improve our lives and solve our problems. He challenges our views on
the meaning of life, on war and peace, on permissiveness and pornography,
on crime and suicide; he challenges the individual ridden with anxiety
and fear, he challenges the society disturbed by anarchy; he challenges
the family beset with unhappiness; he challenges the student who can't
find a motive for study: all of these situations, all of these people,
all of these aspects of life --- are challenged by the teaching and
life of Jesus. To all of them Jesus can bring help and strength;
to all of them he has an answer; to all of them he is the Answer". ---
TRIBUTES TO JESUS have been paid in blood as well as in words.
In every century since Jesus' time hundreds and sometimes thousands of
Christians have willingly and gladly suffered death rather than
deny or betray their friendship for Jesus. Jesus is worthy of tributes
and praise for many reasons, four of which are the following:
- He rose from the Dead
- He lets me share in his "Paschal Mystery"
- He is God as well as Man
- He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity
JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD:
HAVE YOU EVER HEARD THE BLACK SABBATH SONG "After Forever" which has the words:
"Have you ever thought about your soul, Can it be saved?
Or do you think that when you are dead you just stay in your grave?
Is God just a thought within your head or is he a part of you?
Is Christ just a name that you read in a book when you were at school?
When you think about death do you lose your head or do you keep your cool?"
Well, what is your attitude to death? This after all is one of the Big Questions you have to ask about as you prepare to live your "Day" (= life). What does death mean? Is it the end of my life? Is there a life to come? Should I be scared to die?
ABOUT 2,000 YEARS AGO a man was brutally executed in a city called Jerusalem. For over 24 hours he lay dead in a tomb. Then, to the bewilderment of his enemies and the tremendous joy of his friends, . Just think of it:! It wasn't a trick; it wasn't a stunt; it really happened: a dead man came back to life! We say he "rose" (= "came up from") the dead and we speak about his "Resurrection".
DURING HIS LIFETIME THIS SAME MAN had brought other people back from death: the daughter of Jairus (Mark. 5.41), the Widow's Son (Luke 7.14) and Lazarus (John Ch. 11). This same Man --- Jesus --- has promised that we too can make a come-back after death, that we too will rise again. He says:
I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.
IF ANYONE BELIEVES IN ME, EVEN THOUGH HE DIES HE WILL LIVE,
AND WHOEVER LIVES AND BELIEVES IN ME WILL NEVER DIE. --- Jn. 11.25-26.
SMILE: As the funeral went through town, someone forgot to close the back door of the hearse. Before long the precious cargo had fallen out and went rolling down the street. It rolled into a chemist shop and the corpse sat up and asked: "Have you got anything to stop this coffin?" . .
JESUS KEPT HIS WORD: He rose from the dead. He rose from the dead
to "re-open" Heaven and to show us that there is a life after death. His
own resurrection is the proof and guarantee that his promise to us is a
As we will in more detail later, Jesus teaches that there is a future life for us human beings. When you die, your body will decay and rot but your soul will go to Heaven, Purgatory or Hell. Then, at the end of the world, your body will rejoin your soul in Heaven or Hell. This will be fully explained later. What concerns us here is the fact that there is a life to come --- the fact that there is more to our existence than this life on earth.
SOME DAY YOU WILL DIE. If you are not sure of anything else in life this is one thing of which you can have absolute certainty: you are goint to die. This is why Jesus' resurrection is such Good News: it shows that death is not the end --- there is a life to come. When you understand this News it's not hard to "keep your cool" at the thought of dying.
THE THING YOU SHOULD WORRY ABOUT is not dying, but missing
out on Heaven --- this is dying with a capital D, eternal Death, Dying
Forever. How lucky we are to have Jesus' promise that if we keep his commandments
--- and especially if we receive Holy Communion --- then we will escape
this eternal Death and will live for ever. These are his own words:
I AM THE LIVING BREAD WHICH HAS COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN.
ANYONE WHO EATS THIS BREAD WILL LIVE FOR EVER . . .
ANYONE WHO EATS MY FLESH AND DRINKS MY BLOOD HAS ETERNAL LIFE,
AND I SHALL RAISE HIM UP ON THE LAST DAY. --- John 6.51-54
THESE WORDS ARE SURELY EXCITING! Death is not the end! Death has been defeated by Jesus Christ and he will help us defeat it too! This was hot news in the Mediterranean world of Jesus' time (where many people did not believe in an after-life) ; today it is still the greatest news item our ears can hear. Is it any wonder that we Christians attach great importance to Sunday! Sunday is not just a holiday, it's a HOLYday. Sunday is the day Jesus rose from the dead --- so each Sunday we solemnly and joyfully celebrate Jesus' resurrection. For a Christian, Easter Sunday is the most important day of the year.
NOW YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THAT preparing for life means preparing not only for adult life, but even more importantly it means preparing for a life after death: preparing to rise again, preparing to live for ever in Heaven. So we must live now in such a way as not to miss out on rising to eternal life in the world to come. The fact that we are going to live for ever means that we must try really hard to live properly on earth in order to qualify for heaven. Every time you see a coffin say: "Lord, I look forward to the day when you will raise us from the dead!"
THAT "PASSING OVER" (not passing out ) of the angel led to the Israelites
having the Feast of the Passover, celebrating the fact that they
had been spared. Each year they celebrated this Feast with great solemnity
and sacrificed what was called a "passover lamb" --- to remind them
that by the blood of a lamb they had been saved from death and also that
they had been rescued from Egypt (Pharaoh let them go after the tenth plague
). In time, the word "paschal" was developed from the word "passover".
So there was the "Paschal Feast" at which the "Paschal Lamb" was eaten.
NOW WE COME TO THE TIME OF JESUS. He is our Paschal Lamb --- for two reasons:
First, he chose to die at the Feast of the Passover (on Good Friday) and so associated himself with the killing of the Paschal Lamb.
Secondly, by his blood the whole human race has been saved and the way to Heaven re-opened. Jesus' blood has saved us, just as a lamb's blood once saved the Israelites. This is why John the Baptist described Jesus as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1.29). St. Paul, too, describes Jesus as "our passover" (1 Cor. 5.7).
JESUS' DYING AND RISING AGAIN from the dead are referred to as his "Paschal Mystery" ("mystery" here means something great which we cannot fully understand; we can only partly understand how anyone could come back from the dead; we can only partly understand the fact that Jesus --- the Son of God --- actually experienced death ). Put simply, "Paschal Mystery" just means "Jesus' dying and rising" : Jesus died --- and then rose from the dead.
JESUS' DYING AND RISING constitute the greatest event in the history of the world, and it's an event --- a happening --- in which he lets us share. This has tremendous importance for you as you prepare for life because it's by taking part in Jesus' dying and rising that you can become a better person. Just as Jesus died and went down into the tomb and then rose again and came up from the tomb, so we are meant to "die" --- to "go down" --- to what is wrong, bad and sinful in our life. Then we are meant to "rise" again --- to "come up" to what is good , to what is right. For example, we all need to do away with our selfishness --- we need to "die", to "go down" to it --- and then to "rise" to being kinder and more generous in our lives. We are meant to do away with everything negative about us and rise up to more positive attitudes and values in life.
JESUS WENT DOWN AND CAME UP --- and he wants us to do the same. He wants us to die to what is wrong and to rise to what is good. And he himself gives us the strength and the energy to do this. Just as ordinary food gives us energy to keep on living and growing, so Jesus gives us spiritual energy to live and grow spiritually --- to become a better person, to live properly, to live as well as we can. He does this by coming into our life and influencing our life in many ways --- especially by means of the Sacraments.
THIS IS WHERE YOU CAN SAY you are like a small/medium/large bucket
of cold water. "Cold" stands for "not so good/bad/sinful"; "warm" stands
for "good". Our aim in life is to become a bucket of warm water.
Our aim in life is to become a better and better person --- to increase
our supply of goodness, to become more aware of the meaning of life, to
live as a "work of art", to realise that "life means community", to be
responsible. Growing in all these aspects means growing in "warmth". And
it is Jesus who warms up us buckets of cold water.
EACH TIME JESUS COMES INTO OUR BODIES at Communion time, it is as if a red hot iron were being lowered into a bucket of cold water. And the longer the iron stays and the more often it comes in, the warmer the water becomes. Jesus warms us up a bit at a time --- and this is where we get the energy to improve, the energy to "die" to what is wrong and "rise" to what is right. Jesus died and rose; we die and rise. We do what he did. We take part in what he did as our dying and rising Paschal Lamb. We take part in what he did as our dying and rising Paschal Lamb. We share in, take part in, his "Paschal Mystery". This life-long process of change for the better is Jesus at work in our lives. (As in the sign: "Be patient: God isn't finished with me yet".) Jesus applies his death and resurrection to our lives. He is the Lamb whose blood takes away the sin of the world. He applies his saving victory in our lives through his Paschal Mystery by which we die to what is wrong and rise to what is right.
YOUR AIM RIGHT THROUGH LIFE must be to co-operate with Jesus as he offers you his help. If you let him help you then your life will take on a new dimension --- your world will light up with meaning and peace. With Jesus' help you will be changed, transformed and continually become a better person. No doubt you will have your slip-ups, set-backs, let-downs, hang-ups (our remarkable English language . . . ) --- but through them all you will keep on improving. Jesus has commanded us to become steam ( = a saint) , for he says:
YOU MUST THEREFORE BE PERFECT, JUST AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT" (Matthew 5.48). So as you prepare for life, try to get involved as much as you can in Jesus' Paschal Mystery --- his unbeatable process for help and improvement. Keep on trying to "die" to what is wrong and "rise" to what is right more and more each day. This is what our Greatest Friend wants us to do.
With his dying breath Jesus cried out on the Cross:
"I THIRST" == I thirst for God the Father's will to be carried out;
== I thirst for all people to be saved and reach Heaven;
== I thirst that you will take part in my victory and "rise' to a better life here on earth;
== I thirst that you will rise eventually to eternal life in Heaven.
SO OFTEN WHEN WE HEAR ABOUT JESUS we tend to think of him as just a man. This is what "Mary Magdalen" sings in "Jesus Christ Superstar": "He' just a man". But in fact Jesus is NOT just a man. He is GOD as well as man. The Bible teaches us that God the Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, came down on Earth and was born as a man, Jesus Christ. Jesus is therefore God and man at the same time.
MANY OF LIFE'S QUESTIONS HAVE a solution in our minds: we can think them out. But in the case of how Jesus can be both God and man, or the case of how there can be three Persons in one God ( the Trinity ) the solution is not only in our minds; the solution is also partly in our hearts, in our faith, in our trust that something is true because someone else has told us it is true. That someone is God himself --- and he asks us to trust and believe in what he has told us.
THINK BACK TO THE TIME when you were a baby. From watching your baby brother or sister or some other baby, you know that a baby's intelligence and mind are very limited; they have not yet developed and grown. A baby cannot be expected to understand the workings of a car engine; a baby cannot be expected to appreciate the joy and beauty of married love. All a baby can do is understand and appreciate a bottle!
WELL, WITHOUT MEANING TO INSULT YOUR great intelligence, I'm afraid I must inform you that we human beings are like infants when it comes to understanding everything about God. Some day we hope to see the full picture in Heaven. But for the moment we cannot expect fully to understand such great facts as Jesus being both God and Man, great facts like the three Persons making up the Blessed Trinity.
PEOPLE SOMETIMES SAY : Why doesn't God come down on Earth and tell us about himself? To which you must answer: "HE HAS!" God has in fact come down on Earth: God the Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, has done this. In the Bible, God the Son is sometimes called "the Word" and we read in St. John's Gospel (John 1.14 ) that "the Word became flesh" ( = became a man). He has come down on Earth and taken a human body and soul --- a human nature --- and has been born as a man, Jesus Christ.
ALWAYS REMEMBER WHO JESUS IS when you hear him spoken of, when you pray to him, when you read about him. He is GOD-ON-EARTH, GOD-MADE-MAN.
REALISE THAT JESUS CLAIMED TO BE GOD. He claimed to be the Giver of Life, equal to God the Father. He claimed to have the power to forgive sins ( which only God can do). Here are his own words:
"THE FATHER AND I ARE ONE" ( John 10.30 ). When Jesus said this, his audience was shocked. They fetched stones to stone him and said to him: "We are not stoning you for doing a good work but for blasphemy: you are only a man and you claim to be God" ( Jn. 10.33).
THIS IS WHERE YOU MUST ASK ONE OF THOSE "Big Questions" that will help you prepare for life: What about Jesus' claim --- is it true? Is Jesus really God? Well, a claim can only be true or false. If you claim to be the best bike rider in you class then your claim is either true or false. Some claims --- like claiming to be a millionaire --- can be said to be half-true or half-false if you have half a million dollars. But claims of identity, claims of personality can be only true or false. If you claim to be some famous person (the President of the United States or Miss Australia), then either you are that person or you are not that person. You can't "half" be that person. Your claim can be only true or false; it can't be half right and half wrong.
IF YOUR CLAIM IS FALSE, then you are either mad (insane) or you are a deceiver (trying to fool and mislead people). False claims of identity fall into these two categories.
NOW, JESUS CLAIMED TO BE GOD! So, if his claim is false, then he must be a deceiver or insane. But a simple reading of the Gospels shows us that Jesus was neither insane nor a deceiver. His whole life, his teachings, his miracles rule out every possibility of deception and insanity. Could a deceiver do such great miracles in God's name? Would God let a deceiver or an insane person be the greatest and most profound Teacher about God and about human life that the world has ever known? Would a deceiver undergo the Crucifixion just to fool us? Could an insane man have possessed the wisdom, the knowledge, the unsurpassed insights into human nature that Jesus displayed? No, Jesus cannot be said to be a deceiver or to be insane. Therefore his claim is not false. Therefore it is true.
THIS LITTLE PIECE OF MENTAL GYMNASTICS means that this Jesus
Person --- Jesus Christ ("our Lord") is God! It means that God
has come down on earth --- he has come down and told us about himself
and told us how to live properly. He has given us all the advice and
help we need in order to live life to the full. This should boost your
confidence and give you great optimism as you prepare for life. This should
give you tremendous joy in living every day. Jesus is not just a man; he
is God as well as man. He is indeed the Way, the Truth
and the LIFE for each one of us. He is our
Lord and our
God ! ! !
This is the Lo Shu, a square from the Chinese
Book of Permutations (c.1,000 B.C.). Its numbers add up to 15 in every
WE HAVE SEEN THAT JESUS IS ABLE TO help us so powerfully because he is God. He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is God the Son-on-Earth-in-human-flesh. Now we have to ask another Big Question: What do we mean by the "Blessed Trinity"? How can more than one Person be God?
BY THE "BLESSED TRINITY" we mean that in one God there
are three really distinct Persons equal in all things, and having only one and
the same Divine "Nature". The First Person is God the Father, the
Second Person is God the Son, the Third Person is God the Holy Spirit. The
word "Trinity" just means a group of three.
EACH OF THE THREE DIVINE PERSONS is God , yet together they are one God. There are not three Gods; there is only one God , but there are three Persons in the one God. The one God is not made up of three parts or sections; God the Father is not one-third of God, etc.
WE CAN ONLY JUST START TO UNDERSTAND the great fact and mystery of the Trinity in this life. Once again, we cannot expect to know everything about God this side of Heaven -- just as a baby cannot be expected to understand the workings of a car engine. The Trinity is a secret which God the Son of Earth -- Jesus -- has told us about . If he hadn't told us we wouldn't have known about it. Out of love for us he has made known to us the greatest secret there is: There are Three Persons in the one God!
THE TRINITY IS THE HIGHEST TRUTH, the greatest fact, that we can think about and try to understand. From what Jesus has taught us, we know that the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are very close to us. In fact, if we haven't driven God out of our life by sin, the three Divine Persons are closer to us right now than is the person next to you in class! This is exactly what the Bible teaches us:( Jesus speaking in John. 14.23 )
"IF ANYONE LOVES ME, HE WILL KEEP MY WORD,
AND MY FATHER WILL LOVE HIM,
AND WE SHALL COME TO HIM
AND MAKE OUR HOME WITH HIM."
". . . The SPIRIT OF GOD HAS MADE HIS HOME IN YOU."( Rom. 8.9
" YOUR BODY, YOU KNOW, IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, WHO IS IN YOU SINCE YOU RECEIVED HIM FROM GOD"( = God the father ) (I Cor.6.19 )
WHAT A STAGGERING FACT THIS IS! God is living inside you! God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have made their home in you! Not just you but every good person has God living inside him or her! This means it is quite a serious thing to say something unkind about someone -- because GOD is living inside that person.
NOW YOU CAN UNDERSTAND JESUS' WORDS on the day when Saint Paul lost a few points from his pony club licence. Paul had been persecuting Christians in Jerusalem and he was riding to Damascus to arrest other believers when suddenly he was struck from his horse and a light from heaven surrounded him. He heard a voice saying "Saul, Saul ( = his old name ), why are you persecuting ME?". "Who are you, Lord?" he asked, and the voice answered, " I AM JESUS ,AND YOU ARE PERSECUTING ME"( Acts 9.4 ). Notice that Jesus didn't say that Paul was persecuting Christians, but persecuting "ME" (= Jesus ). This is because those Christians were people inside whom God lived.
REMEMBER ALSO THE WORDS: " I was hungry and you gave ME something to eat" ( Mt. 25.35 ). When we give poor people something to eat, we are actually making our gift to God -- because God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are living inside people. A human person is indeed a work of art ! ! Showing disrespect to ourselves or to others is therefore a sacrilege (look it up in the dictionary ).
THE PERSONS OF THE BLESSED TRINITY are the three most exciting Persons in your life. Multiply by a million the happiness you have got out of seeing or meeting a famous person -- and you'll still have only a faint idea of the happiness awaiting you when you meet the Trinity face to face !
THE THREE PERSONS OF THE TRINITY love you, they care about you, and they are living inside you. To God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit , it doesn't matter what you are like : whether you are sick or healthy, poor or rich, happy or sad, have few friends or many or whatever -- these Three Persons love you with an infinite love. They created you out of love and out of love they want you to come to them.
GOD WASN'T BORED OR LONELY before we were created. He was and is perfectly happy. He decided to create us for the same reason that our parents gave life to us -- out of love for each other and out of love for us. because of his great love, God has shared his life, shared his existence, with creatures (= us). How lucky we are to exist !
SO, AS YOU PREPARE FOR LIFE, as you face up to life, as you decide what are the most important things in life and the things that are really going to matter, always remember: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are the Three Persons who created you, the Three Persons from whom you received the gift of life, the Three most important Persons in your life, the Three Persons in whose life your life is a participation, a sharing, and in whose life every creature shares.
MAKE SURE THEN THAT AT THE START and end of each day -- and sometimes during the day -- you very respectfully and carefully say (while making the sign of the Cross very slowly) : IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT -- meaning that everything you do, think or say is done for the honour and glory of the blessed Trinity.
DID YOU KNOW?:
The first newspaper appeared in England in 1622. On the top of the sheet were printed the points of the compass -- showing that the paper told of events in all parts of the world. Soon a publisher arranged the first letters of North, South, East and West at the top of his sheet to spell the word " NEWS". So these bulletins were called "newspapers" and soon every publisher copied the idea.
BECOMING A FRIEND OF JESUS
THINK OF HOW MUCH ENERGY is contained in the mighty ocean surf which
pounds towards the shore along thousands of miles of coastlines around the world.
Jesus has more power than all those waves put together ! As
God the Son he gave those waves their energy ! As God the Son-on-Earth
he controlled the forces of nature:
"Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, 'Master, do you not care? We are going down !' And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Quiet now ! Be calm !' And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, 'Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?' They were filled with awe and said to one another, 'Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him." (Mark 4.37-41)
JESUS IS THE GREATEST MIND-READER the world has ever known. Right now he knows exactly what I am thinking: see John 2.25, Matthew 9.4, Matthew 12.25
THE LATIN WORD FOR "FLESH" IS "CARO". From "caro" come several English words : "carnage", "carnal", "carni-vorous", "carnify" (look them up in your dictionary). The Bible tells us that "The WORD " (= God the Son) became incarnate (= flesh, man) in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. So we speak of the INCARNATION of God the Son.
The more you read about Jesus' life,
the more you understand Jesus' life, the more you will see that Jesus was and is the greatest example of a Person who
loves life. He is the Person most powerfully able to help you in
life; he is the Person most powerfully able to give you life and to let
you have it to the full (see John 10.10)
A saying guaranteed to fill your life with UNhappiness :
"Get out of my life" (King Herod to Jesus in "J.C. Superstar")
YOUR FINGERPRINTS ARE UNIQUE. No two people have the same set of fingerprints. But every human person -- man, woman, child -- has the same set of human features: mind, heart, face, legs, arms, eyes etc. The features themselves may be different (different colour eyes for example) but every human person has obviouly been made and formed according to one design, one blueprint, one plan, one image.
That image, that plan, that model is a living image, a Person. This is what you'd expect, since copies of anything always resemble the original, and in this case the copies (= us!) are persons.
This Person is God the Son who came down on Earth and was born as a
Man - Jesus Christ :
"He (God the Son-on-earth) is the image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers (= angels)
-- all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity. (Colossians 1.15-18)
* Jesus died on a Cross and rose from the grave to save me.
I'll repay him every Sunday by going to Mass.
* God didn't die on the Cross; just his human nature did.
* I receive Jesus by going to Holy Communion.
* Jesus Christ is God; he is Man.
As God he can say "The Father and I are one " (John 10.30)
As Man he can say "The Father is greater than I" (John14.28)
* When we were baptized, God the Father, God the Son (= Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit came and began living in us. To keep them in our hearts we must live good lives.
SINCE JESUS CHRIST IS GOD THE SON in human flesh, he existed as God the
Son before the universe was created. So we read :
The Jews said to him, "You are not even 50 years old --- and have you seen Abraham?"
"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied : "Before Abraham was born, I AM ." (John 8.57-58)
JESUS DID NOT HAVE A HUMAN FATHER. He was conceived in Mary's womb by the power of God the Holy Spirit. He was formed in Mary without Mary and Joseph having intercourse. Saint Joseph was Jesus' Foster Father. Anyone adopted should notice that Jesus was therefore the adopted son of St. Joseph.
JESUS WAS AN APPRENTICE
AND LEARNT A TRADE. When he grew up, he became a carpenter. "This is the
"This is the carpenter's son"..........(Matthew 13.55)
Jesus' foster father
-- Saint Joseph -- was a builder. So, too, was his Divine Father --
God the Father -- who created the universe. The
voice of God the Father is recorded in the Gospels:
"Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain..........suddenly a bright cloud covered them with its shadow and from the cloud there came a voice which said 'THIS IS MY SON, THE BELOVED; HE ENJOYS MY FAVOUR. LISTEN TO HIM'." (Matthew 17.5 )
In the 1970's, in many cricket games, Greg Chappell saved Queensland from defeat by his batting, bowling and
captaincy. Year after year, hundreds
of people are saved from drowning by life savers. Once
and for all, Jesus SAVED the whole human race from defeat and drowning (
= sin and death) by dying and rising.
He is our Redeemer, our SAVIOUR. Which is what his name means: "Jesus" = "The Lord Saves".
"I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.
ANYONE WHO FOLLOWS ME WILL NOT BE WALKING IN THE DARK; HE WILL HAVE THE
LIGHT OF LIFE." John 8.12
"I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD. THE GOOD SHEPHERD IS ONE WHO LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS SHEEP." John 10.11
"I AM THE WAY,
THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.
NO ONE CAN COME TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME." John 14.6
"I AM THE
LIVING BREAD WHICH HAS COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN.
ANYONE WHO EATS THIS BREAD WILL LIVE FOR EVER:
AND THE BREAD THAT I SHALL GIVE IS MY FLESH,
FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD." John 6.51
HAPPINESS : People -- young and old -- search high and low for
happiness in life. Some think that plenty of $ brings happiness. Some think that happiness is to be found in drugs,
irresponsible use of sex, in excessive alcohol, in political or organizational power etc.
Jesus' words completely revolutionize these ideas of happiness :
"HOW HAPPY ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT: THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
HAPPY ARE THE GENTLE: THEY SHALL HAVE THE EARTH FOR THEIR HERITAGE.
HAPPY THOSE WHO MOURN: THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED.
HAPPY THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR WHAT IS RIGHT: THEY SHALL BE SATISFIED.
HAPPY THE MERCIFUL: THEY SHALL HAVE MERCY SHOWN THEM.
HAPPY THE PURE IN HEART: THEY SHALL SEE GOD.
HAPPY THE PEACEMAKERS: THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD.
HAPPY THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED IN THE CAUSE OF RIGHT: THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF
HEAVEN. Matthew 5.1 - 10.
"THERE IS MORE HAPPINESS IN GIVING THAN IN RECEIVING." Acts 20.35
* Have you ever been to a Court and watched a trial? Some day we will all have to stand trial !
"FOR THE SON OF MAN ( = Jesus) IS GOING TO COME IN THE GLORY OF HIS FATHER WITH HIS ANGELS, AND, WHEN HE DOES, HE WILL REWARD EACH ONE ACCORDING TO HIS BEHAVIOUR." Matthew 16.27
Here is a description of our trial: (Matthew 25.31-46)
"WHEN THE SON OF MAN COMES IN HIS GLORY, ESCORTED BY ALL THE ANGLES, THEN HE WILL TAKE HIS SEAT ON HIS THRONE OF GLORY. ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE ASSEMBLED BEFORE HIM AND HE WILL SEPARATE MEN ONE FROM ANOTHER AS THE SHEPHERD SEPARATES SHEEP FROM GOATS. HE WILL PLACE THE SHEEP ON HIS RIGHT HAND AND THE GOATS ON HIS LEFT.
THEN THE KING WILL SAY TO THOSE ON HIS RIGHT HAND, 'COME, YOU WHOM MY FATHER HAS BLESSED, TAKE FOR YOUR HERITAGE THE KINGDOM PREPARED FOR YOU SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD. FOR I WAS HUNGRY AND YOU GAVE ME FOOD: I WAS THIRSTY AND YOU GAVE ME DRINK: I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU MADE ME WELCOME: NAKED, AND YOU CLOTHED ME, SICK AND YOU VISITED ME, IN PRISON AND YOU CAME TO SEE ME'.
THEN THE VIRTUOUS WILL SAY TO HIM IN REPLY, 'LORD, WHEN DID WE SEE YOU HUNGRY AND FEED YOU: OR THIRSTY AND GIVE YOU DRINK? WHEN DID WE SEE YOU A STRANGER AND MAKE YOU WELCOME: NAKED AND CLOTHE YOU: SICK OR IN PRISON AND GO TO SEE YOU?'.
AND THE KING WILL ANSWER, 'I TELL YOU SOLEMNLY, IN SO FAR AS YOU DID THIS TO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE BROTHERS OF MINE, YOU DID IT TO ME'.
NEXT HE WILL SAY TO THOSE ON HIS LEFT HAND, 'GO AWAY FROM ME, WITH YOUR CURSE UPON YOU, TO THE ETERNAL FIRE PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS. FOR I WAS HUNGRY AND YOU NEVER GAVE ME FOOD: I WAS THIRSTY AND YOU NEVER GAVE ME ANYTHING TO DRINK: I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU NEVER MADE ME WELCOME, NAKED AND YOU NEVER CLOTHED ME, SICK AND IN PRISON AND YOU NEVER VISITED ME'.
THEN IT WILL BE THEIR TURN TO ASK, 'LORD, WHEN DID WE SEE YOU HUNGRY OR THIRSTY, A STRANGER OR NAKED, SICK OR IN PRISON, AND DID NOT COME TO YOUR HELP?'. THEN HE WILL ANSWER, 'I TELL YOU SOLEMNLY, IN SO FAR AS YOU NEGLECTED TO DO THIS TO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE, YOU NEGLECTED TO DO IT TO ME'.
AND THEY WILL GO AWAY TO ETERNAL PUNISHMENT, AND THE VIRTUOUS TO ETERNAL LIFE."
THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST:
= God exists, God made me, God loves me.
= Life is everlasting and death is nothing to fear if I have faith and try to live good life here on Earth.
= God the Son has come on Earth to be our Saviour, to teach us how to live, to teach us the meaning of life,
to teach us all we want to know.
= God can help me in all my troubles.
= Everything in life makes sense.
= God made me to know him, love him and serve him here on Earth and to be happy with him for ever in Heaven.
* Jesus warns us about the danger of false guides and false friends in life. Included in his warning is a simple but sure character test that anyone can use. Read Matthew 7.15-20.
* Money and greed can make our hearts grow cold and can deaden our consciences. Jesus' advice for life will help you have a proper attitude to wealth. Read Luke 12.15-34, Luke 16.13. Here, as in so many situations, Jesus helps me to keep a close watch on his heart of mine".
* As we saw in "Preparing for Life", your life is like a building. Your job now while at school is to lay the foundations for your adult life. Ask yourself what type of foundations you are actually laying -- as you read again the words of the "Builder's Son" in Matthewt. 7.24-27.
* Jesus often reminds us of the solemn and serious obligation to keep the Sabbath holy. But some people who go to church on Sunday are anything but Christian for the rest of the week. Jesus also therefore warns us against being superficial and insincere (read Mathew 7.21). Jesus demands that we practise what we preach (read John 14.15).
* Without air, you will die. Without Jesus, you are worthless. As God the Son, Jesus created you in his image, and it is only by his creating and sustaining power that you are kept alive. Only by uniting your life to his can you grow as a person. Read John 15.5.
* To say that Jesus is irrelevant is like saying that food
is irrelevant. If Jesus is unimportant and irrelevant in your
life, you can't be leading a proper life. If you are
deliberately leaving Jesus out of your life you must be leading a very unhappy life.
Accepting Jesus as your Friend and Saviour means living up to the standard of life that he sets. It means trying to avoid sin and wrongdoing. It means a continual turning away from evil and a continual conversion of heart. Read Matthew 4.17.
* Jesus is the greatest Exorcist the world has ever know. He can keep Satan's influence out of your life, too, if you ask him to. Read Mark 5.1-20.
* Like anything worthwhile in life, friendship with Jesus requires effort on your part. Read Luke 9.23-26.
Jesus was the most peaceful Person ever to walk our Earth. At his birth the angels sang "peace to men of good will". At the end of his life, peace was his gift to his followers (see John 14.27).
Yet Jesus himself always lived under the shadow of violence. At his birth an evil king killed all the baby boys of Bethlehem in an attempt to kill Jesus (see Matthew 2.16). At the end of his life he experienced the cruelest and most iolent death the world has known.
Throughout history, Jesus' followers have been persecuted and put to death. Wars have been fought in Jesus' name and even among his own followers (e.g. Northern Ireland). Such wars happen when some people (usually on both sides of a conflict) are Christian in name rather than in fact. They can also happen when people misunderstand Jesus' teaching.
Realise, too, that although Jesus does not aim to cause conflict, conflict sometimes becomes inevitable as a result of the strict alternatives which Jesus offers. If your friend wants you to help him steal a car each night you might eventually have to break off your friendship with him because Jesus teaches us that stealing is wrong.
JESUS INVITES US TO BE HIS FRIENDS. He invites all people everywhere to accept him as their Lord and Saviour. His "Great Invitation" is in Matthew 11.28-30
* Accepting Jesus as a friend means being a member of the Church which he himself began. The Church continues the work of giving us God's message for life and giving us God's grace and strength through the seven sacraments. We'll see this in more detail later. For the moment read Maathew 16.13-19 (where the name "Peter" comes from!) and Matthew 28.19-20 (...God wants every human being to be a Christian..)
* Being a friend of Jesus means following the example of Jesus. Like Jesus, we are meant to use our Day (= life) to help people less fortunate than ourselves. See Acts 10.38.
* As we'll see later, having Jesus as a friend means receiving him in Holy Communion as he commanded us to (see John 6.52-58). Jesus is present in a special way in the church Tabernacle. Try to visit him often, even every school day if your school has a chapel.
* words like "passive", "compassionate", "compatible", "impassionate", "impassibility" - all have the basic idea of "something been done to" = "something been suffered". So we speak of the Passion of Jesus, the time when he was betrayed by a friend, given a false trial, whipped and scourged, and nailed to a cross on which he died. Jesus underwent this terrible suffering out of love for us, to enable us to get to Heaven. To show us he is our friend he died for us. How could we refuse to be his friend in return?
* Wear a cross of medal to remind you of how much Jesus loves you. Have a cross or crucifix in your room at home. Attend the "Stations of the Cross" or a "Passion Play" during Lent. Read John 15.13
* After he had risen from the dead, Jesus spent some time giving further teaching to his disciples and then he went back to Heaven from where he had come about 33 years earlier. Read Acts 1.1-11
* About 40 days after he went back to Heaven, Jesus (God the Son) and God the Father sent God the Holy Spirit to be with Jesus' followers and to carry on the work of spreading the Good News to the ends of the earth. Read John 14.16 and then Acts 2.1-13
* No other person in history has been the subject of as much literature,
art, sculpture, music, drama, radio, t.v., films as Jesus, because he is the
most important person ever to walk this world.
* Make a Map of Palestine as it was in Jesus' time
* Find out something about the Charismatic Movement (invite a guest speaker...)
* Compose a song or prayer addressed to Jesus
* File a report on the Shroud of Turin
* Collect some well-known prayers to Jesus (e.g. the Prayer of St Francis of Assisi)
* Make an Easter Poster
* Collect some prayers addressed to God the Father
* Collect some prayers addressed to God the Holy Spirit
* File a report on how Jesus has been portrayed in art or sculpture or music or film
* Stage a mini "Passion Play"
* Outline the main ideas found in the Mass of Corpus Christi, the Mass of The Sacred Heart, the Mass of Christ the King
* Arrange a Day of Prayer (on a class roster basis) with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
* Talk and pray to Jesus every day of your life. He is not just a figure of history; he is not just an image on a Cross; he is alive today. He is LIFE ITSELF. He is keeping us alive by letting us share in his life! Pray every day also to God the Father and to God the Holy Spirit. Not to speak to the Trinity each day is like not speaking to your parents.
Jesus does make a difference:
* "I felt his voice take the sword (= anger) out of my hand........He gave me heart to live" - Judah Ben Hur in "Ben Hur" (now available on DVD with many details about the making of one of the greatest movies of all time).
* Even the business world pays its tribute to Jesus by trying to
commercialise the seasons of Easter and Christmas. Always remember the real
importance of these times:
Easter - the time when Jesus rose from the dead
Christmas - "Christ"+"Mass", the Mass and time of Jesus' birth
* The Bible is an historical document. No other book in the world's history has been so thoroughly investigated by scientific research. And the deeper the archaeologists dig, the more the Bible is shown to be historically reliable and accurate. In particular, the Gospels are historical documents. They are not make-believe. They prove that Jesus was an historical person, he did exist. His life, his teaching, his miracles - all are historically recorded. Little wonder then that the Gospels have an aura of truth about them. Read them and judge for yourself how sincere and truthful they are.
* Do you read a few lines of the Gospel each night before you go to sleep? Use a calendar or diary to help you get into the habit of this nightly reading. For nights that you remember to let Jesus speak to you from the pages of the Gospel, put a tick on your calendar-diary. For nights when you forget Jesus, put an "x". Gradually build up to 7 out of 7 ticks each week.
* Nothing, but nothing, is as important as getting to Heaven and helping others to do the same. So Jesus says in Matthew 16.26: "What then will a man gain if he wins the whole world but ruins his life?"
* Epilepsy affects the lives of many people. Jesus cured epilepsy. Read Matthew 4.23-24
* Jesus was once your age with your feelings, your hopes, your problems.
Read Luke chapter 2 and see how Jesus
- once "ran away" from home
- was obedient to his parents
- matured and developed as a young person
* Jesus loves us and will always welcome us:
"Whoever comes to me, I shall not turn him away" (John 6.37)
Smile: Then there was the oil
millionaire who used to say he was well-off...
...and the exorcist who couldn't pay his bills....he was re-possessed...
THIS BOOK has tried to help you begin to understand who Jesus is. As you prepare for adult life, keep on trying to increase your knowledge of Jesus and your love for Jesus. Read about him, pray to him, help him by helping other people. Jesus is our greatest Friend in life: he died for us. Our friendship with him is meant to be something alive and active, a personal relationship.
AS YOU GO THROUGH LIFE, realise that our friendship with Jesus is more important that wealth or possessions or power or pleasure or fame or any other earthly thing. No other person has influenced the world as much as Jesus; no other person should influence us as much as Jesus.
TRY TO LIVE ALWAYS AS JESUS WANTS US TO LIVE, as he taught us to live. The next book in this series, "Commandments For Life", will study in detail the way Jesus wants us to live.
REALISE YOU HAVE A DUTY to help other young people discover who Jesus is:
"Remember, you who belong to this new generation, that it is your role to help those around you, to help our modern world.....discover its real Christ, its Messiah Jesus" (Pope Paul VI, 5.4.71). Try to help some friends discover Jesus.....maybe by inviting them to watch a movie about Jesus.
THIS BOOK BEGAN WITH JESUS ("Christmas"). It now
ends in his praise (see Luke 1.28):
FULL OF GRACE,
THE LORD IS WITH YOU.
BLESSED ARE YOU AMONG WOMEN
AND BLESSED IS THE FRUIT OF YOUR WOMB
- MY GREATEST FRIEND IN LIFE -
J E S U S.
This has been book number 2: "Friend For Life". Click here for book number 1: "Preparing For Life"
Click here for prayers.