Monday 27 February 2012

The Quest for the Real: Learning from the Humanity of Jesus

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

What is your quest?”

In the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the knights of the Round Table are asked of this question before they are allowed to cross the Bridge of Death, in order to continue their quest for the Holy Grail. Then God appears to Arthur and his knights as he avoids entering Camelot; they are subsequently given the sacred task to seek the Holy Grail. As God tells Arthur, “that is your purpose in life.”

Just like Arthur, we are on a quest. We are in pursuit of meaning and purpose. Our lives are a quest for the Real. The Real is that which is authentic and True. We constantly desire to have an experience of truth, goodness, beauty and love. Our sacred task is to pursue and enjoy the Real.

It is Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life that we desire. He is the Real. Our sacred task is to seek Him, draw closer to Him, love Him and serve Him. The quest of our lives is the deepening of our bond with Christ. As we encounter Him in our daily lives, we bring to Him the questions in our hearts and in our minds: ‘Why am I here?’, ‘What is the purpose of my life?’, ‘What does it mean to be human?’. The answer of these questions are all found in Jesus the Christ. We find the meaning of our humanity in His humanity.

The early Church Fathers have much wisdom to offer on the topic of humanity: St. Irenaeus once declared that “the glory of God is the human being fully alive”. In order to be fully alive, we have to learn what the fullness of our life is like. Once again, we can draw inspiration and strength from the humanity of Jesus, who came so that we might have life more abundantly. We are also reminded by St. Athanasius that “God became human so that we might become God”, so that we become “sharers in divine life” (2 Peter 1:4).

In drawing nearer to Jesus' humanity, we find the meaning of our humanity. For instance, we learn that Jesus also had to learn and grow. He learned from Joseph and Mary; He memorized the Torah (the Pentateuch) and the Psalms. He prayed for wisdom and for the Holy Spirit. “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom” (Luke 2:40). “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). We also learn that when Jesus was tempted by the Devil in the desert, He brought them to the Father in prayer: He glorified the Father by putting all the temptations in the perspective of the Kingdom. Even at that dreadful hour in Gethsemane, He prayed that God’s will be done.

Indeed, in Jesus we find the model to pray, to learn, to grow, and to offer everything to the Father so that His will be done. By drawing nearer to Jesus in prayer and through our relationship with others, we learn about His humanity. We learn about the ways He experienced emotion, joy and sorrow. This is our quest: to find the value of being human through Jesus. Then, we can journey with our brothers and sisters across the bridge that brings us into the Heavenly Mansion. There we will sit not about a round table, but before the Heavenly Altar where we will commune and enjoy the Glorious Meal and the Beatific Vision.

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