One who is in love knows that the person loved always comes back in thoughts, dreams, fantasies and conversations. Where she is not present everything turns tedious, boring, monotonous. She becomes the only one and we seek her everywhere. It seems impossible to love without being loved in return.
To believe in Christ means to fall in love with him. It is to discover that his love for us has always existed and never fails us. He does not abandon us even in difficult times, even when our love “cools down”.
People can remain friends, sympathizers, admirers of Jesus of Nazareth. They can limit themselves to considering him the first of the sages, the holiest among people, the most righteous among the righteous. It is not enough. Falling in love is another thing; it is to let oneself be involved in his dreams and share his choices, abandoning oneself in his arms, believing his promises, putting in him all the hopes and expectations.
“I know in whom I have believed”—Paul writes his friend Timothy (2 Tim 1:12). And he does not fear contradictions because he knows the One to whom he entrusts himself.
Perhaps we are not yet in love with Christ: we are afraid to bet our life on his proposal. We believe in the values that he provides. We aim—yes—at something, but not everything, because the doubt haunts us, fear grips us that we might lose the bet.
We do not completely trust because we still do not really know him.
Few details are not sufficient
When one falls in love with someone one feels an irrepressible need to know everything about him or her. One is not contented with just knowing the name and age. One wants to know the other’s history, tastes, passions, religious beliefs, the ideals for which he or she stands, the values he or she believes in, the projects he or she has in mind and also his or her limitations, weaknesses.
We are perhaps convinced of knowing everything about Jesus. We remember that he was born in Bethlehem and lived in Nazareth, that his parents were called Mary and Joseph, that he was a friend of the Magdalen and that he died on Calvary. We remember also some of his saying and parables. That’s all.
We learned some notions to be admitted to First Communion and Confirmation, as we learned the bare essentials about Augustus Caesar and Charlemagne to pass the exam.
If this is enough for us we are not people who love. The Baptist could repeat to us today: “Among you stands one whom you do not know” (Jn 1:26).
The stage of this world
Jesus is at our side, but it is not easy to notice him: “He has nothing attractive in his appearance, no beauty, no majesty” (Is 53:2). The appearances of the stars that fill the pages of the weekly magazines with their photos are much more appealing. The character to whom the prime time television programs are dedicated are much more fascinating.
Seduced by appearances, dazzled by illusions and by the lights of deceptive limelight of this world, one happens—we know—to fall in love with the wrong person. Then the years pass, and when it’s too late, one realizes of having stupidly lost one’s youth, the chance of a lifetime.
To each of us today Jesus could say, as he did to Philip at the Last Supper: “I have been with you for a long time and yet you do not know me.”
To fall in love
The Christian community in which we were born and grew “has promised you to Christ, the only spouse, to present you to him as a pure virgin” (2 Cor 11:2). She wants to let us know him. She knows that if we discover his true face, we will remain seduced. For this, in a liturgical cycle of three years, she makes us contemplate him from four different perspectives.
In year “A” Matthew is in-charge of speaking to us about Jesus. He—the tax collector who became a disciple (Mt 13:52)—presents to us the Christ with the sometimes hard language of the masters of his people. Matthew is a rather strict moralist; he does not hesitate to put on the lips of Jesus threats and condemnations, as did the strict preachers of that time. We will keep it in mind.
In year B the task of speaking to us about Jesus is entrusted to Mark. This evangelist puts emphasis on the humanity of Jesus to let us feel him close. He wants us to understand that he shares our feelings, our sentiments, our passions, as we experience anxiety, fear, sadness, anguish, rejoices in the tenderness and affection and suffer delusions of abandonment and betrayal. Very similar to us, except in sin (Heb 4:15).
In year “C”, Luke—the sensitive and attentive to the needs of the poor evangelist—highlights the episodes in which one sees Jesus’ tenderness toward the last, the marginalized, the excluded, the sinners.
John, the fourth evangelist intervenes during all three years, especially in Lent and Easter time. He teaches us that Jesus is the bread that came down from heaven, the light of the world, the source from which the water of life flows.
They are four different and complementary angles, all necessary if we want “our hearts comforted, closely united in love and reaching out to a rich and perfect intelligence, toward a deeper knowledge of Christ” (Col 2:2).
To a liturgical cycle, another will follow, then another, until the good Lord will leave us on this earth. The four evangelists will help us to grasp all the features of the face of Christ. They will make us discover the most fascinating details. One day we will exclaim with joy: “My ears heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5). It will be the day when we will feel really in love with him.