Jesus is the center of our spiritual life. St. Paul constantly preached this message as we see on the 11th Sunday of Ordinary time. “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me. I live by faith in the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
This was the approach of St. Augustine. I recall his conversion in the garden where he hears a voice say over and over “Take and read.” The book happened to be a Bible. He picked it up and the first page opened with the words of St. Paul that rang a bell for Augustine … “Put on the Lord Jesus.” He made that call of St. Paul the center and unity of his spirituality. Because he put on the Lord Jesus, he became a Christian and accepted baptism. Jesus became the driving love of his life.
Years later when he became the Bishop of Hippo, Augustine created a small monastery in the cathedral garden and trained his men with his commitment to Jesus as the most powerful force of his daily life. He set the tone with a question. “You men are not yet home. You are still on the way.” “Where are we going?,” they asked. He replied, “To Christ.” “How do we get there?” “Through Christ.”
Jesus is the only way. Our absolute destination. Our true homeland. As they came to know Jesus they realized he was touching everything about their lives, their bodies, their hearts, their culture, their politics. Jesus walks with them in all these matters.
As time went on he showed them the wonder of the Holy Trinity revealed by Jesus. Eventually he developed titles for Jesus that described his influence on them. Augustine presented the Jesus who is the Word, the logos, as described in John’s Gospel. This image revealed the divine reality of Jesus as well as his profound humanity.
Then he gave them a Jesus the healer. He preached the astonishing healing power of Jesus where we encounter his divinity. Augustine was fascinated by doctors and medicine, due to his own poor health. In his sermons he teased his listeners, “You are willing to trust these doctors. You are unwilling to trust God.” Christ heals us from all our sins. He gives us holiness.
Augustine’s third picture of Jesus was, “Jesus the poor man.” Augustine loved Christ’s words. “I was hungry and you gave me to eat.” As we all know, Pope Francis loves the poor and wants to help them and for us to do so as well. The Christ of one’s heart is the Christ of every human relationship, especially the poor. Jesus is the poor person in every diocese, knocking at our door. Jesus asks us. “I am hungry. Please feed me.”
Pray to Jesus, “Dear Jesus, I want you to be the center of my spiritual life.”
Norbertine Fr. McBride is a popular lecturer and author of more than 40 books.