By Joseline Byakatonda
Have you had an encounter with a man whose mysterious, unique features attract attention everywhere he goes and every where he is present? His characteristics always set him apart from other men. He is the center of discussions all over the world even in countries or communities where it is forbidden to talk about his name; it is because they fear His unique identity. Two thousand+ years ago, that is how it was with Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary, a descendant of David. Those who heard of Jesus were not fascinated by just his personality, witnesses confess to Jesus of Nazareth being unique of all men of His times. Even today, many still witness to this uniqueness. Not a single person can claim to know him thoroughly.
He is mysterious and yet real. He is a darling to many: rich, lowly, the no bodies in society, the marginalized, the sexually abused, those in pain, as well as those searching for meaning in life. Jesus is the friend of all. He is equally a friend to all. He is the man the world is in need of most now. That is the man I am introducing to you, that you make him your friend from now on- if you haven’t already. But if you have, then deepen the relationship. Jesus’ surprises are not exhaustible.This man did not stop being present long ago as it sounds, but has continually been present amidst many people today. Those who respond to His love today still experience Him. They still hear him speak. He is present in every moment, be it trial, joy or sorrow. When you befriend him, then his presence will be real and felt. Though he is God, he accepts to dwell among us. But this He demonstrated already by first living with Joseph and Mary obeying them and helping out with chores like children in a home would be. If you are struggling with pride, He is the answer to your problem. Pride has destroyed many and still does. The feeling that you are above everyone else-even if you are, will not keep you floating for long.
Then there comes the visionary. If you dream big, then the person to help you actualize your dreams is none other than Jesus. Can you imagine the empire He built thousands+ years ago is still growing stronger and bigger day by day after commissioning a handful to carry on with His work? He is the right person to consult on how to strategize for the future. Why not make Him your friend so as to tap into His wisdom and knowledge?
‘There is within every soul a thirst for happiness and meaning,’ writes Thomas Aquinas. Who can provide this happiness and meaning if not the creator who knows for what purpose all things exist. The community you live in and the general environment around may sometimes crash you more than they build- remembering the negative statements thrown at you since childhood. You need an anchor to hold your hand firmly, to encourage and up lift you from within. The philosopher Aquinas points to Jesus as the source of happiness and meaning. Where are you searching for happiness and meaning if not in Christ Jesus?
Jesus Christ changes lives. Yes, no matter what shape it may be. Critics may say what they say best of you but Jesus changes lives. Not just thousands of years ago but today. Jesus still lives on today and still works in those who nurture a friendship with Him. Many are the witnesses to the sin breaking power of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Many have been liberated from pornography, prostitution, alcohol, smoking, lust, anger, rejection, loneliness, unworthiness…
No habit is impossible to Him only if you give it a try. Billions from all backgrounds, races, professions and nationalities attest to His saving power. Make Jesus your friend and you will find meaning in life, sure deal! Like all relationships, if you do not nurture this friendship, you stop at hi-hi level. That is the pew kind of relationship, but Jesus desires that you relate with Him in the taxi, as you sit your exams, as you go through a busy schedule and you struggle with disappointment… You can be a church goer and yet not a friend of Jesus unless you choose to. Choose to get Jesus out of the church with you to wherever you go. Make Him your friend by choosing to do those things that bring you closer to Him.
Jesus Christ was indeed raised from the dead on the 3rd day and lives today. Connect with Him then watch how your attitude and actions begin to change. He is a change maker in history of humanity who did not write a book about His great works, capabilities and achievements but had books written about Him with thousands already in existence, many still being written and others still in the offing.
A connection with Jesus changes people but because He has given us freedom, you can choose to be among the many that ignore Him. You can make fun of Christianity, at your own risk, apart from the negative consequences that spill over to the community. It’s your decision. The foundation to this relationship is acknowledging God’s love for you and the wonderful plan He offers for your life. God’s love: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”(Jn 3: 16). God’s plan: “Yes, I know what plans I have in mind for you, Yahweh declares, plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”(Jer 29: 11). To experience the love and witness the wonderful plan of God unfolding in your life requires a connection with Jesus. That is at a personal level; no one can do it for the other. And no one will do it for you. Decide to reduce the distance between you and Jesus by moving closer to Him. He is waiting and He is yearning. Jesus longs to be known by none other than you. Just as you study to be an expert in a certain field, relationships equally take time.
They need to be nurtured and given those things that make them grow. For babies, it is milk, after six months they begin to have some smashed Irish or soft foods. Their understanding at this stage is more than the milk stage and the milk stage is different from the early days after birth. Though they were understanding and human at those stages, each month that goes by unfolds them into another level of growth. So it is with nurturing this relationship with Jesus. Take time to meditate on the daily readings. These can be found in diaries, year calendars printed by parishes or congregations. Grab yourself a copy (as we enjoy saying it now days) but make use of it.
Meditate on just the gospel for the start. To know a person takes understanding who they are. And understanding who they are flows from knowing their actions and what they say. To know Jesus’ actions, to know who He is will require giving attention to understand what He says and what He does by first, reading the gospel, and listening to what others say about Him. Jesus is Alive, Alive indeed. You however have to make your life uncomfortable, a little bit at the start, to subscribe to a group that meets regularly be it legion of Mary or others. Open your eyes and ears in search of these groups in your parish or sub parish. But first nurture the habit of seeking to know Jesus individually. He is first a friend of the individual then the community or group you subscribe to. It is a choice to know Jesus and make Him your friend but not a regrettable choice once taken. Mass is another place to interact with Him because He is fully present. Present to those who nurture their friendship with Him. Note,
He doesn’t segregate the rest but you will not recognize Him unless you first become friends. The good news is-you can start. Other priorities will compete to over shadow your schedule not to have time to read the gospel or relax with Jesus. Having warned you in advance, prioritization is key. Just as you secure time in your schedule, to call friends, whatsApp, Facebook and interact; spare time to interact with Jesus too. On your schedule give Jesus the first appointment in the morning. Starting by talking to Him in the morning will enable you respond to the rest of the day more peacefully. Remember it is an individual choice. Make Jesus your friend this month as His mother Mary intercedes for you. Her yearning is for everyone to know her son and be close to Him forever.
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