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Eros–driven Jesus

The previous article described my newly discovered perception of the Holy Spirit as Divine Eros. Divine Eros is the Spirit of Love directing arrows at my heart to awaken it to the possibilities of love. For me that was a peak experience, seeing the Spirit as well as myself in a whole new light. Then I realized that our peak experiences may well reveal to us something about Jesus, for he was the most human of all human beings.

Could it be that Jesus too must have experienced the Spirit of Love as Divine Eros? I think so. Jesus was familiar with the Song of Songs from the Old Testament and the erotic love relationship described in that book. He understood that the Divine Lover was searching for the beloved and the beloved was searching for the Spirit of Love, and he was the beloved. What emerges from this perception is not the typical holy-card Jesus but the Divine Eros-driven Jesus, the fully alive Jesus who did everything with passion.

Further, the Spirit operated in Jesus’ life, just as the Spirit operates in our lives. The Spirit would have invited Jesus to ever deeper faith, ever firmer hope and ever greater love through gifts of consolations which would have produced deep, positive feelings in Jesus. These feelings would have been the Spirit’s prompts and signs of Divine Dialogue, signs of the Divine Lover calling Jesus to discern God’s will and direction for his life.

The difference between Jesus and ourselves is that he was deeply aware, deeply expectant of the Spirit’s continuous presence in his life, Most importantly, the difference is that he surrendered to the invitations and inspirations of Divine Eros to grow in radical love. Now let’s look at three major directions the Spirit drove Jesus.

Driven to Contemplation.  It was the Spirit of Love, Divine Eros, who urged Jesus to enter into the contemplation of his Father, states Fr. Raneiro Cantalamessa, OFM, preacher in the papal household.  If we think that the desire for contemplation came to Jesus without effort, we are overlooking some of the obstacles Jesus faced. Jesus was a public figure. When word spread that Jesus was in the vicinity, crowds gathered. When Jesus tried to escape the crowds by sailing across theSea of Galilee, the crowds followed him on foot. He was a celebrity whom the people would not leave alone.

Further, Jesus’ compassion for the crippled, the sick, the deaf and those filled with unclean spirits drove him to be available to all those who needed his healing power. It was the Spirit of Love, Divine Eros, who kindled in Jesus the desire to move away from the crowds and seek solitude to discover through contemplation his relationship to the Father and to discover his identity and mission.

Driven to Holy Partnership. Jesus was a radical, an extremist. He questioned every sphere of life—political, economic, social and religious. Jesus turned upside down everything in the society of his times, states Fr. Albert Nolan in Jesus Before Christianity. Jesus showed that ideas about what was right and just were actually loveless and therefore contrary to the will of God. We might add that Jesus’ teachings are radical and extreme for our times, and for all times.

However, Jesus did not come with a blueprint for the ideal life and the ideal society.  He had to discover it. His radicalism was the result of his holy partnership with the Spirit. Jesus was pursuing the wisdom of God, not human wisdom. He was driven to the Spirit to help him create a whole new life vision, a whole new world vision.

Another sign of his radicalism was his choice of disciples. His choice put Jesus on the road to Calvary right from the very beginning. For he snubbed the established religious authorities. How radical to choose as his disciples ordinary men, even a tax collector, when he could have chosen men like Nicodemus, a Pharisee, and thus break into the ranks of the religious establishment! But that was not the Spirit’s way. Jesus was responding to Divine Eros’ initiatives, invitations and inspirations to steer him, not in the ways of men, but in the ways of God.

Driven to Compassion. The Spirit of Love called Jesus into an entirely different mission from that of John the Baptist who strove to bring people to a baptism of repentance in the Jordan. Jesus did not continue to baptize. Instead, the Spirit led Jesus to understand that his mission should be directed at the poor, the sinners and the sick—the lost sheep ofIsrael. The Spirit inspired Jesus to liberate people from every form of suffering and anguish. His miracles were performed not to prove that he was the Messiah; they were performed out of compassion, states Fr. Nolan.

It was the Spirit of Love, Divine Eros, who helped Jesus prepare his heart for the ultimate sacrifice he was being called upon to make for others. In the end, Jesus would go to his death knowingly and willingly, out of deep love for others.St. Augustine said that Jesus went to the Cross as a bridegroom goes to the bridal chamber. The ultimate and crowning work of Divine Eros!