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Historical Jesus

For a fully integrated spiritual life, we need the intimacy and inspiration of Christ’s Spirit, an awareness of the Risen Christ’s ongoing Incarnation in us, and a deep understanding and love of the historical Jesus. Until now, we have focused on the first two. Now we turn to the historical Jesus and what do we find? The historical Jesus gives us, who are seeking to live a spiritual life, a much needed dose of reality.

Mirror of God. The spiritual life is a journey of faith into mystery, the mystery of who God is and what He has done for us. Fortunately, we don’t take this journey by ourselves. We have Jesus to show us the way. He assures us: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. It is through Jesus that we discover the mind and heart of God. Jesus in His finite humanity is the physical revelation of the infinite God Who is invisible and so beyond our comprehension. If Jesus is forgiving, God is forgiving. If Jesus is compassionate to us as wounded human beings, God is compassionate. Jesus is the image of God, the mirror that reflects God in all His reality.

Further, after our spiritual journey has brought us into much studying and meditating on Jesus in the Gospels, there comes a point when we ask ourselves: “Have we outgrown such study?” St. Theresa of Avila asked that question as she began to reach the heights in her spiritual life. She concluded that Jesus was the anchor in her spiritual life. She realized that dwelling on the mind, heart and will of Jesus through meditation on the Gospels preserved and deepened her relationship with the Triune God. Psychologically, as human beings we need the concreteness of Jesus’ humanity to live and operate in the rarefied air of the spiritual life. Jesus is our reality check!

Moreover, Jesus helps us to connect with the ongoing Incarnation of the Risen Christ within us. When we give concrete expression in our lives to the virtues and qualities which Jesus incarnated, we can enter into real intimacy with the Risen Christ. So, the historical Jesus is our link to the reality of and relationship with the Risen Christ.

Mirror of Ourselves. As Jesus anchors us in our relationship to God, so too does He anchor us in our very practical need to address our personal imperfections. Jesus’ life holds up a mirror to us and allows us to see ourselves as we truly are. Our reality check!

Christian theology presents Jesus as assuming in His person all that needed to be saved and that includes our imperfections. St. John of Damascus stated: “Had there been anything of me not assumed (by the Word of God), it would not have been saved.” If we believe that the Incarnation is the source of our salvation, we believe that Jesus experienced being human as human nature really is, including our weaknesses. So He is the salvation for all our personality types with our distinctive weaknesses.

Usually our imperfections are a good quality of being human, but we become compulsive and push our behavior to an extreme.  For example, if we are idealistic, a very good human quality, we may end up demanding perfection from others as well as ourselves. We take a limited way of being a person and turn it into being the ultimate way of being a person. The price of such behavior is our failure to become integrated persons and effective evangelizers.

Not only does Jesus save all personality types, He is the fully integrated person and thus the model of the ideal person and thus the model for each of us. By being without sin, Jesus was without compulsions—the driving force behind our imperfections. Because He lived all the ways of being human without their compulsions, he is able to be a model for all our personality types in our journey to real freedom and spiritual wholeness. In the series that follows, discover Jesus’ humanity and your own imperfections.