If your life is transformed by being Christian, what does that actually mean? If I have encountered the Lord and have a new spirit, how does that manifest itself? Am I some kind of ‘Superman’ character who looks like mild-mannered Clark Kent on the outside, but who, when the occasion arises, nips into a phone box to reveal that I’m wearing my knickers outside my tights, before flying off to do good deeds? It is certainly something of a shock to discover that one is still as liable to breaking whichever commandments one always was inclined to break, although I think that when that man told me he coveted his neighbour’s ass he may not have been talking about a quadruped. We have taken Jesus into our lives, and yet we seem unchanged; how can that be?
I can speak only for myself, but would be ever so interested to hear from others about this. I never had any single moment, because I have never had any single moment from when I first heard the name of Jesus that I have not believed what I was told in Sunday School; one reason I teach it to this day is that I want to bring to others the joy I found in Him. There was just a wonderful feeling of knowing that all would be well, and that all manner of things would be well because of King Jesus. So, when I felt envious that my friend Penny had a nicer pencil-case than mine, I felt bad about that feeling, because it didn’t seem to me the sort of thing that Jesus would like me feeling. That way of thinking has stayed with me, and been, in many ways, more effective than any ruminations about God’s Law. When my conscience pricks me, so too does that ‘are you hurting Jesus?’ thing I have going.
That made me want to know more about Jesus. In some ways this may be easier for a women than a man, because I fell deeply in love with Jesus. I recall telling my Daddy that when I grew up I was going to ‘marry Jesus’, and for quite a long time I want to be a nun; indeed there have been times as an adult when that vocation has spoken to me. So, as you do with the person you love, you want to find out all about them. Reading the Bible, I wanted to understand it more, so I read commentaries, and I was introduced to the Fathers, as Christians nearer in time to Jesus and the Apostles, who were closer to the source. I also wanted to know more about his family, and, probably because I was a little girl who lost her mother young, I was particularly attracted to Our Lady, who, through the Rosary, brought me even closer to her Son.
So it wasn’t that I became a different person, but more like I entered into a relationship with Jesus, and through getting to know him better began to change, the way you do when you’re in a relationship. I wanted, and want, to do things that I think please him, and I don’t want to hurt him by being bad, or doing bad things. Sometimes there are things which make no sense to me. Like all children, you like to think if you’re good, bad things won’t happen, and when they do you want to complain. But even there, there’s an upside, because you can only really complain to Jesus if you stop and talk to him.
For me that’s the key. You can’t say you are in a relationship with anyone if you devote no time to them; if that’s the case, even if there was a relationship, there soon won’t be one. When I spend more time with Jesus, I am better for it, and when I am ‘too busy”, I am the worse for it. Here, going to church is important for me, because I meet, and am encouraged by, other Christians, and because, at the Holy Eucharist, I meet Him and am thereby transformed.
I am not, I fear, transformed into an automatically better person, by being a Christian, but I am reminded by being one that I can be better by growing in Him. How about you?