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Knowing Jesus' humanity is key to friendship

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Jesuit Father James Martin said that Catholics tend to struggle with accepting the humanity of Jesus whereas the secular world struggles with the divinity of Jesus. He said in order to be friends with, Jesus people need to understand the Jesus of history and the Christ of Faith.  

Father Martin shared stories of Jesus’ humanity in an effort to help people grow in friendship with Jesus Sept. 22 at Catholic University’s CUA on Tap, an event for young adults. 

“Entering into friendship with Jesus means, in part, getting to know Jesus’ humanity,” said Father Martin. 

Pointing at a baby in the audience, Father Martin said Jesus needed to be held, fed, burped and changed, just like any other baby. He gave vivid descriptions of what Jesus in His humanity would have experienced, including getting sick or grieving the loss of his friend L­azarus.

“Jesus had real friends,” said Father Martin. “Jesus was a real life, flesh and blood, excuse the expression ‘honest to God’ person.” 

Father Martin said people need to  consider both sides of Jesus.

“If you see something that shares only one side or the other of Jesus then it is incomplete,” he said. 

The Jesus of history includes His humanity, and the Christ of faith relates to the resurrection, His miracles and being the Son of God, he said, adding that part of friendship with Jesus has to do with honesty. 

“Can you be honest with Jesus and God in prayer?” Father Martin asked. 

Joanna Scimeca, a teacher at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, said the presentation “was inspiring for me to think about how I would envision Jesus differently as a friend of mine.”

Catholic U. junior Victoria Consbruck said friendships help in her relationship with God. 

“Now that I’m a junior I really want friends in my life who I think will be there longer than college,” she said. “For me on a faith basis, that means that they should be there for me whether we are at times when we are high in our faith or low in our faith, and be able to see that and adapt to it.” 

She said she wonders about how to maintain friendships when faith isn’t a priority to others. 

“How do you have friends (who) aren’t very faithful, and how do you keep that going when it’s something important to you and not important to them. Is it still possible or is it not possible?” asked Consbruck. 

“I am very rooted in my Catholic faith,” said Caili Pleshe, a junior at Catholic U. “It’s nice to have friends who are also rooted in that faith. You have that bond with God and it’s something that you guys have in common.”

She also has friends who don’t share the same faith. 

“My friends accept my faith and appreciate that I believe in something so deeply. Even if they don’t believe it, they still respect it,” she said. “They have to respect what you believe even if they don’t believe it, and I think that’s a really important part of a friendship.”

For people who might have struggled with other friendships, Father Martin had advice. 

“Encounter Jesus through the Gospels first and try to meet Him there,” he said. “Try to be open to different images and ways of understanding Jesus. Any way of relating to Him that is an entrée into His life is a good way to meet Him.” 

In an interview after his presentation, Father Martin said this year 43 men have entered the Society of Jesus, the largest group in the past decade. Father Martin believes this is due in part to the “Francis Effect.” Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope. 

“The year after Francis was elected pope, people expected to see an uptick, but Jesuits know it takes about three years for a man to think about the society, discern and apply,” he said. “So this is almost exactly the time that we would expect the uptick.”

Elliott can be reached at eelliott@catholicherald.com.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016