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Jesus’ Tutor

In the Conspiracy of God, author John C. Haughey, SJ states that we must pay attention to the role of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ developing self-understanding: “A Jesus who is imaged as having made it without the Spirit generates a piety in which the Spirit is superfluous for all practical purposes.”

Growth in Understanding. As human beings, we grow in understanding by moving from ignorance to knowledge, from doubt to certainty, from indecisiveness to decision. We work our way through trial and error, analysis and insight. That was the process of our brother Jesus. “The great misfortune of the Christology bequeathed to us is its portrayal of a figure who effortlessly knew; from the beginning of his Incarnation he had nothing to learn, just much to teach,” writes Haughey. “Jesus learned the way every human being learns except that his principal teacher was the Spirit.”

Yes, Jesus’ tutor was the Spirit, the God of Mystery who mysteriously brings human beings to their fullness. The Spirit led Jesus to look upon all creation with a deep sense of mystery. Rather than being a know-it-all, Jesus looked upon all reality with a great sense of mystery and wonder. Paradoxically, embracing mystery helped Jesus, and helps us, grow in understanding and wisdom. Let the Spirit be our tutor!

Growth through Judaism. The Spirit used the same means available to every Jew to teach Jesus. If we demean the faith of the Jewish people, we ignore the fact that Jesus was the product of what the Spirit had been doing inIsrael for centuries. The Spirit taught Jesus by means of the Jewish law, the Prophets and the prayers of the Chosen People that he heard regularly in the synagogue of Nazareth and that he heard at his mother’s knees. Ultimately, it was through his realization that the Jews were the Chosen People that he realized that he was the Chosen One, the new Moses who would save his people.

No doubt, Jesus viewed his Jewish faith with the same worldview he perceived all reality. Rather than getting mired in the details of Jewish Scripture, he experienced profoundly the mystery and the wonder of God entering into the life of the Jewish people to save them, and selecting them as his Chosen People. He did not look at the basics of his Jewish faith as answers that closed the door to further inquiry, but rather as answers that spoke mystery, and as such, that invited continuing and deepening reflection. Is there a lesson here? When we embrace mystery in our faith, we open ourselves to the Spirit.

The Spirit used Mary to bring out Jesus’ worldview of mystery and wonder. She had experienced the mystery and wonder of the divine entering into her life. She pondered the mystery of Jewish Scriptures in her heart and shared them with Jesus.

Growth through Relationships. The Spirit used the relationships that developed between Jesus and others to teach him his identity. Before Jesus could experience the full presence of the Father as Father, Haughey writes, he had to have the capacity for relation-ship. Jesus’ worldview of mystery and wonder affected his attitude toward others and helped him develop his own immense capacity “to be wholly present to others as oneself and fully receptive to the otherness of others…. In time, he perceived that the Other into whose presence he was more and more intimately being led, was his Father….Each true relationship expands one’s capacity to stand in openness to God as wholly Other.”

Haughey’s concept of true relationship is linked to the Cursillo virtue of compassion for others (No. 5 in this series). Its practice expands our capacity to stand in openness to God as wholly Other. Viewing the people in our relationships as mysteries with the Spirit deeply involved in their becoming themselves, we can unleash our compassion for them and at the same time grow in our ability to relate to God, the Mysterious Other.