Fright or Fop?

JMJ

The Readings for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B2)

Qui benedixit nos in omni benedictione spirituali in caelestibus in Christo,

Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places 

It comes to me from time to time, walking up to communion, this ancient prayer of the English Martyrs. Iesu, Iesu, Iesu, esto mihi Iesu! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be to me (a) Jesus!  (…hoc est salvator, that is saviour…) The name of Jesus in Hebrew – the same as Joshua – means “savior”. Here, in Ephesians, is St Paul saying that in Jesus all blessings are given to us.

We’re usually confronted with a Jesus who is either a fright or a fop. We are often (usually by judgmental family members) introduced to a frightening Jesus who will send us to hell for stepping over the imagined lines of morality offered by the family members or their pastor. But we can also be offered a Jesus who seems more concerned with hair care and beard balms than with actual truth and morality. Neither of those sound like “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” so we rightly walk away. Who needs that?

Esto mihi Iesu.

We want – we need – the Jesus described by St Paul (and the other Apostles): Every spiritual blessing, God’s grace bestowed on us, the way God accomplished all things, the summing up of all Creation, everything recapitulated in him. That’s what we want. That’s what we need. Instead we get either ranty raving lunatic of a hellfire preacher, or else some tripped out hipster dude who couldn’t – literally would not be strong enough or able to – hurt anyone.  Trust me: this is the fault of … us, the Church. 

We most often only offer two modes and neither of them quite match this wonderful image of Jesus as the origin and goal of all that is or will ever be.

Esto mihi Iesu.

Let us try to abandon all things (as the Gospel suggests) – hat, staff, extra shoes, money, extra clothes – so that the Jesus we offer and teach to those around us will be the Jesus that is everything; the Jesus that is the one thing needful; the Jesus that is a Jesus.

At the end of the most dangerous action a Christian can make – the action of Communion – I find myself praying this in the pew repeatedly.

Iesu, Iesu, Iesu, esto mihi Iesu! 

I have received not only a morsel of bread and a sip of win, but the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. This is the meal that consumes us: either to our damnation or to our divination. We are either condemned by the action we take in consuming this food, or else we are elevated beyond the realms of mortality into the Godhead.

For this last to happen, Jesus must be neither hippie nor hothead, but rather truly himself: God the Son of God, the divinely appointed judge of all the world, and the son of Mary, the poorest of the poor, the lowest of the low. Jesus must be the God of dirty diapers and bloody nails; the God of friends and of failures. Jesus must be nothing less than the creator of all things killed as a common criminal.

Esto mihi Iesu.

Ultimately, if Jesus is Jesus, then we die. We are crucified with Christ. The life we live in the flesh is the life of Christ – no longer our own, for we are bought with a price too dear for us to pay. He feeds us himself, so we become him, and then we die like the martyrs at Tyburn who wrote this prayer we say. 

Iesu, Iesu, Iesu, esto mihi Iesu! 
Iesu, Iesu, Iesu, esto mihi Iesu! 
Iesu, Iesu, Iesu, esto mihi Iesu! 




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Author: Huw Richardson

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He has worked in tech (mostly) since 1999 and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.