I confess to some reluctance. For one thing, the theme reminds me that I am a sinner, which I am already reminded of rather more than I care to be. Thus, not only do I not love Jesus as much as he loves me, which is a given and inevitable; I don't even love myself as much as he loves me. In fact, I sometimes find myself questioning his judgment for loving me as much as he does; he's a fool for me, with a wisdom greater than I can fathom, let alone muster; and so the truth that I ought to love myself more—or at least more genuinely—than I do is an obligation I need him to help me meet. Then there's the all-too-evident fact that I don't love others as I ought, largely because I don't love him as I ought. It's all quite embarrassing, really. Adding to the embarrassment is a prejudice I acquired as a cradle Catholic old enough to remember the days before Vatican II. In those days, only women and clerics spoke sincerely of their love for Jesus and got away with it. Or so it looked to me: tacitly but unmistakably, I got the message that any lay male who talked that way was—well, in today's atmosphere, I don't even want to say it.
But I find myself unable to turn down such an invitation from Teresa Polk. She's a person of quality: a fine, noble, and smart Christian woman; and while I'm not made of stuff quite so fine, I am no cad. So she wins.
1. I love Jesus because he chose to save me from what I would surely end up being if he hadn't given his life for me.
2. I love Jesus because he is the friend I need day by day: supremely good and bound to stay that way. That makes him better than any other human being; just as delightfully, he doesn't rub it in; it's just so, and that's that. (Notice I did not say 'human person'; I don't want any distracting corrections from you Chalcedonians out there). And all that holds irrespective of how he views or feels about me in particular.
3. I love Jesus not only because he is God Incarnate, which you can't beat, but as such embodies God's sense of humor. How, after all, did God save us? The supremely good King of the Universe became a man among us, going about doing only good, and for his trouble got himself tortured and executed as a serious public nuisance. Beyond my gratitude for being saved, I love the huge, subtle, and ironic style of it. The style comes through even in the characteristically Jewish sense of humor: "Foxes have lairs, birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
4. I love Jesus because he makes sense of life. He is indeed The Point of Everything. One of my biggest problems with people, including myself sometimes, is that our priorities are often so distorted. We get all hung up on things that are either objectively unimportant or, when they are objectively important, rarely mean what we think they do. We carry on as though what matters to us matters period. But the two are not the same at all. There is often a connection, to be sure, but it's not guaranteed and it's often not what we think. And yet to the extent we conform ourselves to Jesus, by obeying his commandments, joining our sufferings to his, and thanking the Father for everything, we will make the connection secure and thus make the only sense out of life that matters. That also helps me appreciate the fact, which I feel keenly, that the sort of mentality which is habitually concerned with the ultimate meaning of things is generally ill-equipped for success in practical affairs.
5. I love Jesus because he willingly takes countless insults himself but won't let the demons say a word against his Mother. What a mensch.
I tag: Jonathan Prejean, the Crimson Catholic; Aimee Milburn at Historical Christian; Scott Carson at An Examined Life; Robert "Gagdad Bob" Godwin at One Cosmos; Paul Hamilton at Ascent to Mount Carmel.