Who captures my attention?
How do we begin to get attracted to a person? I am not talking about physical or romantic attraction. How do we begin to follow some one and elevate that person to a level above everyone else? What are the qualities that will make us stop and take a second look and consider that person worth our attention? We watch that person in real life situations and listen to the words and analyze his actions. We look for contradictions and complexes in his personality. We watch him relating to people around. We watch his emotions and see his life in private. Many times we hear about a person and come to know about what he is and what he does and this creates a desire to know more about that person. There is a longing to meet that person and move from second hand knowledge to more of a personal encounter. We may move from appreciation and adoration to a desire to be with him. This likable quality eventually may lead towards a higher longing called 'love' where everything and everyone else may become shadows in his presence. This love has the quality of exclusiveness and can only be realized through sacrifice.
I look into my own life and look at the people I like and love to some extent. I see bits of good qualities in many of them. But none of them got all the qualities all the time. I also have not spent a lot of time with many of them to know all about them. I sense an inner resonance with them and a feeling of being understood. I think there is a spiritual dimension to such relationships. Some of these persons pulsate with life and spread a lot of energy around. They are not easily discouraged but seem to be having a different view of life. They have a higher reason for living and they infect others with this enthusiasm. They value people and elevate their moods. They are empathetic and care for people who ever they may be. There are no hidden agendas in their attitudes. They have a sense of humor and are proactive and display a great level of trust. They are forgiving and sensitive to the pain of others. I like the way they speak or the way they look. I am touched by their gentleness and courage.
Now how many people can we find in our own circle of friends with these qualities? There may not be more than one or two, yet this small number is sufficient for us to hold on to life and go on in the midst of meaningless life all around. Is there some one who has all the qualities that I long for? Is there some one who can take me to a higher level of longing? Is there one person who will take me as I am and lift my spirit to feel and think differently and enjoy life in its fullness? I too find that my own heart is empty of such qualities.
As I read the Gospels, I see Jesus of Nazareth as that kind of a person. His words and life matched. He talked gracious word and touched people with compassion. He was not ashamed to express his feelings of sadness, anger and frustrations. He looked at people with moist eyes and felt what they felt. He taught what he believed and what He knew with out any apology in spite of it being other worldly. He did not compromise but was willing to pay the price for standing for the truth. He had authority that reflected the divine yet he could take a child in his arms and bless her. Evil shuddered in his presence yet sinners found peace in his presence. His hands touched the lepers and lifted little children. He exposed the inner thoughts of his critics without humiliating them. He stood tall before his enemies. He is the most beautiful person who draws my heart to himself. The Man among men.
The disciples were attracted to him as they spent time with him watched every move he made and listened to every word that he spoke. Their doubts slowly changed to trust. They watched his miracles and had dialogue with him alone. They walked with him and shared meals with him and had picnics. There was such openness in him that he welcomed them to come and stay with him. He washed their feet and shared his heart with them. He was totally free to be His true self at every given moment. He entered and embraced all that was awaiting in humility. They witnessed his agony in the garden and many hid themselves for self preservation. As he carried the cross to
Calvary, all of them lost their hope on that Friday. Their aloneness intensified and Peter's fear transformed into betrayal and then into tears in the darkness of the night. In spite of the message of resurrection, confusion overwhelmed them on Sunday. Their confidence and faith melted away at the crucial moment. They acted as if they lost their friend for ever. They could not handle his physical absence. They could not accept him as a Spirit ever present.
In the midst of all these happenings, there stood women of ill repute, Mary Magdalene. She was well known for her fallen and devil possessed life. She was forgiven and touched by the Gentle Carpenter. She knew that she deserved death and hell, yet this Man from
Galilee made her human again worth all of God's love. She could not walk away from such wonder and mystery. She was not ashamed to break the alabaster jar of perfume, the symbol of her trade, before her critics and anoint this Man's feet. She was not occupied with her self image but became free to kiss his feet and wipe them with her hair. Such display of affection was too embarrassing for the onlookers. Yes her love for this Man made her stand near the cross and watch his slow death and hear the wonderful words that came out in between his gasps for a bit of air. On Sunday all she wanted was to touch his dead body and cover it with herbs as an expression of her intense love for this beloved. She could only think of embalming the memory of her beloved. She waited when all others left. She had no fear. May be in her heart she knew love never dies. She wanted to hear him and hold on to him. This kind of love only gets satisfied with another perfect love. That happened to her when Jesus called her “Mary". Human Love recognized DIVINE LOVE in that whisper.
Can truth alone produce such love? For Mary it was the tremendous experience of forgiveness that created such love. It became a reality for her, not just theoretical understanding of facts. Jesus wanted this kind of love from his disciples. He longed to experience such love from them. The Man who conquered the devil, hell and death, longed to hear this word of Love from the hearts of his followers. So he took Peter aside for a walk on the beach after giving him breakfast. Peter's heart was beating faster as he waited for the rebuke from his master. He was too ashamed to re-live that moment of betrayal. He could not face himself or his master. He only wanted to get away in to the familiar sea and go back to his trade and forget the philosopher. Jesus ignored all of Peter's negative thoughts and asked only for his love. Peter do you trust me to hold you for ever? Are you still committed to me Peter? Does your heart beat with my heart beat? Are you willing to forget all that happened and start your walk with me again? Can you take care of those who are in my fold? Can you share your joys and pain with others as you have experienced it? Can you be a wounded healer Peter? I need your Love more than anything else Peter. All that you are and what you will do needs to flow out of that Love, Peter. Are you willing to reflect my love in your love Peter?
What can be our response to such a longing from His Heart? All Peter could say was,” you know that I love you". What else can we say? What will make our hearts respond in this way? For Mary it was the intense experience of forgiveness and the way he hung on that cross. For Peter it was the wide open heart of the savior at the beach. For others it was the miracle of Pentecost when they experienced the reality of the lover as the Spirit in-dwelt in them.
Behind all these experiences, stands the Man from
with nail pierced hands and crown of thorns. His voice full of grace and no condemnation. His wounds still fresh and life giving blood continue to flow from his side. His strong gentle hand takes the bread and breaks it and He calls me to part take of it. He gives the cup of wine to drink to experience the reality of His forgiveness. As He does this He asks me for my Love. Nazareth