SOMETHING VERY BEAUTIFUL FOR JESUS (Mark 14: 3-9)
Too often we are preoccupied with making request of Jesus and the petitionary prayer dimension has beclouded our prayer life and relationship with Jesus. It seems like a waste of time to explore other levels of prayer like adoration, praise, thanksgiving, confession, meditation and contemplation; worse still doing something for others in the name of Jesus. Nevertheless, there are many examples of people who have done something very beautiful for Jesus. Let us take a clue from the example of a woman who anointed Jesus and Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. You always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish, you may do good to them. But you will not always have Me. She has done what she could” (Mark 14: 6-8). To this end, the big question arises: are there ways we can also do something very beautiful for Jesus?
I want to give God something very beautiful and without reserve
The Christian life may seem impossible, but thanks be to God for the life of saints who are ordinary human beings like us but have demonstrated their love for God in an extraordinary way. A recent example of our age is Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She is credited with the expression “Ask Jesus not to allow me to refuse Him anything, however small, I (would) rather die.” The foregoing statement sounds idealistic or utopic! However, for Mother Teresa, her desire for Jesus was neither idealistic nor superficial. It was real and she sought to love Jesus passionately not just with words of mouth and the lips but from the deepest recesses of her heart and her soul as her sign of doing something very beautiful for Jesus. How did she give Jesus something very beautiful and without reservation? She did so by building a bond between herself and Jesus through a private and special vow. Her vow was to strengthen her resolution to remain faithful to Jesus by her commitments to the works of Jesus and to always seek to do what pleases God. This is a sign of Mother’s human and spiritual maturity. Here, we see Mother Teresa doing something very beautiful for Jesus by donating herself entirely to the work of God. This at last defined her motto as “All for Jesus.”
Once, she was asked what could be the merits for one entrusting his or her life to God and she explained: Why must we give ourselves fully to God? Because God has given Himself to us. If God who owes nothing to us is ready to impart to us no less than Himself, shall we answer with just a fraction of ourselves? To give ourselves fully to God is a means of receiving God Himself. I for God and God for me. I live for God and give up my own self, and in this way induce God to live for me. Therefore to possess God we must allow Him to possess our soul.
Generosity of devotion
Generosity is very powerful! Hence the saying “Give more than you receive. It always comes back in a river.” Many of us cannot move to the next level of our lives because we are satisfied with where we are. So, there is need to let go a hurt(s) in order to experience the gift of tranquility. We need to be off the TV and gadgets in order to pray, read the Bible, and visit the sick. We need to give up our comfort in order to visit the aged and the needy which will enable us to gain strength from their smiles. The challenge is even more about giving God our time, talent and resources in the solemn act of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for instance. Love according to our Christian understanding as taught and expressed by Jesus Christ is the other – centred and not just self – centred. Little wonder St. Paul says in Romans 5:8 that Jesus had to die for us even while we were still sinners. So, we can begin to assess our generosity of devotion and how it can serve as doing something very beautiful for Jesus.
The aim and height of generosity of devotion
Generosity of devotion cannot be craved for just for its sake but for a prime purpose and ending and that ought to be the quest for holiness. God created us to be holy as St. Paul says, “God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and without sin in his presence (Eph. 1:4). The hallmark of holiness is the fact that it is an attribute of God. This being the case, we are called to be holy as God is Holy (cf. Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 1Pt.1:16). In addition, there is a clarion call to Holiness by Vatican II: “The Church, whose mystery is set forth by this sacred council, is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy… Therefore, all in the Church, whether they belong to the hierarchy or are cared for by it, are called to holiness…” It is in this light that Mother Angelica had to say that holiness is an obligation, a call and the will of God. Holiness is living with the goal of the Christian life in mind. That is the desire to do the will of God. It is allowing our decisions to be guided by the Holy Spirit, surrendering to the will of God, and at the same time, it is grasping each moment and making it all it can be. Holiness is as simple as knowing when to say yes and when to say no. Unfortunately, most times we mistaken holiness for piety. One may sanctimoniously pose in prayer, before the reception of Holy Communion or before adoration of the Blessed Sacrament but never holy! Judas was with Jesus Christ for three years but was never holy. In sum, holiness is our response to the will of God. It is synonymous to perfection and saintliness and Jesus says, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48). Can we attain holiness in a perverse world?
Some have argued that holiness is not possible in this world because they have been going to Church, reading the Bible and spiritual books, receiving the sacraments and doing good works, yet they remain unholy. However, “The surest signs of holiness are not how often a person goes to Church, how many hours he spends in prayer, what spiritual books he has read, or even the number of good works he/she performs.” Even though the aforementioned spiritual exercises are necessary tools for attaining holiness, it must be clear that “The surest signs of holiness are an insatiable desire to become all God created us to be, an unwavering commitment to the will of God, and an unquenchable concern for unholy people.” It will be something very beautiful for Jesus if we can demonstrate our generosity of devotion by walking and working towards the attainment of Jesus’ purpose for coming to the world – to save us from sin and make us holy.
Jesus is the reason
I have a monk-priest who has influenced my life so much and during one of my spiritual direction session with him, I asked him the question: what can I do as something very beautiful for Jesus? He said he would share from his own experience of what he had promised to do as something very beautiful for Jesus. He said, “I am a very happy man and my happiness is from a person called Jesus Christ.” He stated that because Jesus is a person whom he loved so dearly, he decided to look for an opportunity to encounter Him daily in His very person. That informed his zeal to experience Jesus in the Mass and the Eucharist daily. So much so that for him, though a priest, the Mass and the Eucharist are not obligatory spiritual exercises meant to be fulfilled as rules but they are special privileges to meet the Lord. He went further to challenge my faith in Jesus by asking me to equally do something very beautiful for Jesus.
Again, as for Jesus being the reason in our journey of faith and its history, people of all works of life and backgrounds have done things remarkably very beautiful for Jesus. Some have given up some forms of addictions (sex, money, gambling, drugs/alcohol, power) or comfort in order to please Jesus and offer something very beautiful to Him. Take the examples of Ss. Augustine and Clare. St. Augustine gave up addictions to pleasure and became zealous for Christ and His Church. St. Clare on the other hand, came from a very comfortable background and she had all it took to marry and live a comfortable life, but for the sake of doing something very beautiful for Jesus, she listened to the feelings of Jesus’ call and she gave up everything and followed Jesus in the Religious life. A life of obedience, poverty and chastity/celibacy.
We have been living and operating with the Christ of glory and history and that has informed our sense of commitment and fidelity. However, doing something very beautiful for Jesus would make sense if and only if we can push further by bringing the Christ of glory and history to the here and now. To do this we may not need new spiritualities but in the fashion of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, we can decide to begin doing simple things for the sake of a Simple Man called Jesus the Christ. We claim to be people of faith and indeed we are. However, our faith should be able to bear fruit and that can be if we can be in the presence of Jesus or make the presence of Jesus real. If Jesus is real, then He deserves something very beautiful from us. Think of one, two, three things to do as somethings very beautiful for Jesus.