At the Name of Jesus

Rod Dreher posts about a personal experience told by Tim Dalrymple. Dalrymple begins with a a friend who had just returned from a month-long Ignatian retreat.

As [my friend] described his retreat, I kept hearing a particular word a word that surprised me, a word that I had not heard or spoken so openly and frequently for years.Do you want to know what the word was? Jesus.I had stopped saying the word Jesus. 95% of the time, I only spoke of God. Or if I had to speak of him, I referred to God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity, the Logosnames that sounded intellectual and sophisticated. If I had to speak of the Son incarnate, then I spoke of Christ, or the God-man. Never Jesus Christ, and certainly never justJesus. Loving Jesus, following Jesus, seeking Jesus these were the province of fundamentalists, Bible thumpers, Jesus Freaks, crude Christians who wore WWJD bracelets and listened to Michael W. Smith and read Max Lucado instead of Jurgen Moltmann. We had even begun to subtly mock Jesus by talking of Jeebus or mocking the way certain preachers shouted Jesus! in their sermons, or by laughing at Jesus action figures and the other strange cultural artifacts emanating from Jesusland.But now, here was this friend of mine, whom I admired, and he couldnt stop talking about walking with Jesus and talking with Jesus. He spoke of Jesus telling him something, or showing him something, or holding him. It was striking only because I had not heard language like that since I had come to seminary.

The story reminded me of some words of Karl Rahner in his wonderful little book, "The Love of Jesus and the Love of Neighbor." Rahner recounts a conversation with a colleague whom he identifies as "a modern Protestant theologian." He says:

At one point I put in with, "Yes, you see, you're actually only dealing with Jesus when you throw your arms around him and realize right down to the bottom of your being that this is something you can still do today." And my theologian replied, "yes, you're right, of course -- if you don't mean it too pietistically."

Rahner responds:

I think one can and must love Jesus, in all immediacy and concreteness, with a love that transcends space and time, in virtue of the nature of love in general and by the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

This loving encounter with Jesus is possible to us today, Rahner affirms -- "on condition that we want to love him, that we have the courage to throw our arms around him."

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is the author of Rekindling the Christic Imagination.

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