What does it mean to say that Jesus is the Christ? More and more what makes sense to me is this: Christ is not just a person. And it’s not just a title. And it’s certainly not the last name of Jesus. No. Christ is a word that names the divine energy that was released into the world through the life of Jesus. Just as stars explode and new planets are formed, so in the life of Jesus a certain kind of Christ energy was constellated and released into the world, and this energy is still changing the people. This is nothing less than the energy or presence of God.
Compassion exploded into the world through the life of Jesus. Unconditional love and inexhaustible grace was released into the world through the life of Jesus. Creative, transforming and inspiring goodness was released into the world through the life of Jesus. So much so that I like to think of Jesus as a Christ-Burst–a burst of God energy that continues to shape the world one heart, one person, and one community at a time. Anyone can say Jesus is the Christ. That’s easy. The words are easy. But can you find the energy? It’s the energy of Christ that matters most.
I thought about this not too long ago when I read a story about a woman who was alone. Very ill. And she was at home dying of AIDS. It would be hard to overstate how depressed and discouraged she was feeling. A friend was so concerned that she called a priest to come by and visit the woman. I can tell you from personal experience that it doesn’t always work so well when somebody calls a minister to visit someone else, but in this case it actually did work.
The woman candidly told the priest: “Look, I’ve made such a mess of my life. I’ve made so many mistakes. How could God ever forgive me?” The priest listened. He said to her, “God can forgive anyone. Anytime. We just have to trust it. Receive it. Let it come close to us.” The woman said, “I think I’m beyond believing it.”
At that very moment the priest happened to notice that on the woman’s bedroom dresser was a beautiful picture of a young girl. She looked to be, maybe, 12 years old. He asked the woman, “Who is that little girl in the picture?” And for the first time in the conversation the woman smiled. She said, “Oh, that’s my daughter. She’s the only beautiful thing I have left in my life.” The priest said, “And if your daughter made some mistakes and did some things that were wrong and was hurting and broken, wouldn’t you forgive her, wouldn’t you come close to her and still love her? Wouldn’t you still want her to be in your life?” The woman, whispering now, the woman said: “Yes. Yes. Yes, of course.” And then that priest made a wonderfully astute theological connection. He said, “I want you to know that God has a
picture of you on God’s dresser. And God still loves you. And you are not alone.” That is Christ energy.
Every time we treat another person with dignity and respect and every time we bring a little compassion to another human being, especially a human being that is
hurting and broken, and every time we offer love as a way of life, we bring Christ to others, and the great Christ-burst that started centuries ago continues in our
time and in our place.
Thinking about Christ as creative, transforming, inspiring energy cuts in two different directions for those of us who profess Christian faith. On the one hand, it is a gift we receive, and I might also add that it’s a gift that all of us need. Because we are all broken by the challenges of life. We’re lonely. Or we’re insecure. Or we’re anxious. We’re hurt or we’re angry or we’re bitter. Yet, to believe in the great bursting energy of Christ is to believe that love is at the heart of life. And so is grace. And so is forgiveness. And so is kindness. And we are all desperate for it. Every one of us.
Yes, we receive Christ energy, but we are also called to share that energy with others. And while I know some people like to equate “sharing Christ” with talking about Christ or quoting the Bible or trying to convert someone to Christianity, I’m more and more of the persuasion that we share Christ by doing Christ things in this world. That is to say, we find ways that are right for us to release Christ into the universe.
Fr. Joseph Dovari