Unwrapping your gift

in-jesus-nameIf you were here for one of the Christmas Masses, I hope you picked up and have unwrapped your Christmas present! We handed out almost 2,000 copies of Rediscover Jesus by Catholic author Matthew Kelly. (And if you were away, no worries, we have more of the books!) I hoped you have begun to read the 40 chapters – a chapter at a time. The book is not a novel that begs you to turn page after page until you reach the end. It is more a “40 day retreat” which offers you four practical invitations at the end of every chapter, each of which appeal to a different part of our being. To Ponder engages the mind, Verse to Live (taken from the Gospels) can engage almost any part of us; Question to Consider engages our memories and life experience, and Prayer engages our hearts. Almost every reader will find at least one of those four points striking. These invitations allow us as readers to reflect on the message of the chapter in a way that is deeply personal.

Rediscover Jesus is meant to be deeply personal. So many people tell me that they want to know more about Jesus, and the Gospels, so that they can come to know Jesus in that deeply personal way. The desire is there, but life gets in the way. Pope Francis understands that current in our life as busy people with a myriad of relationships to attend to, but asks who or what exactly should take priority over Jesus? Think about how you would answer that question! It is a similar question that confronts couples preparing for marriage: Which is more important – the husband-wife relationship or the parent-child relationship? If you are like most folks, you want to balance the relationships, giving them each their own proper importance. The research, however, is clear that the degree to which the spouses have a strong relationship is a leading indicator of the strength of the parent-child relationship. It seems to me, that whatever relationship you want strengthened in your life, a leading indicator for a Christian is the strength of their relationship with Jesus. As I said, it is all deeply personal.

How well do you know Jesus? The author, Matthew Kelly, asks an equally provocative question in his book. He asks you to think about several people who are on the periphery of your life. They are good people, but are they the ones who “confound the stereotypes, reveal unconsidered possibilities, rearrange my priorities, liberate me from the chaos of the world, remind me what matters most and what matters least, and bring real order to my life?” Of course the answer is “no,” but might it not be the case that you know those people better than Jesus?

And now you know the reason for the Christmas present. What better gift could there be than coming to know Jesus —the carpenter from Nazareth, the itinerant preacher, the Son of God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the Lamb of God, the new Adam, the Messiah, the Alpha and the Omega, the Chosen One, the Light of the World, the God-man who wants good things for us more than we want them for ourselves, the healer of souls?

That is what we want for you. But perhaps we should have put a warning label on the book. Here is what Jesus wants: “Jesus wants you to become the most generous person in your sphere of influence. He wants you to astonish people with your generosity. He wants you to be generous with your time, talent, and treasure. But he invites you to a generosity that goes far beyond these. He wants you to be generous with your praise and encouragement. He wants you to be generous with your compassion and patience. He wants generosity to reach into every area of your life so that throughout you he can love and intrigue the people in your life.” Wouldn’t you want to know that person? Don’t you want to be that person?

Read the book; ….we’ll talk. Merry Christmas.

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