The voice was uncomfortably loud and came from someone behind him in line at the airport. “Hey, Pepe, do you still love Jesus?” Evangelist and Bible teacher Jose (Pepe) Prado Flores turned to face a rather imposing woman who asked him yet again, more loudly than before, “Pepe, do you still love Jesus?” Pepe answered, perhaps in self-defense, “Yes!” The woman, who was actually an old friend and fellow evangelist, just nodded and said, “Good, good!”, and proceeded on her way. Pepe says he has encountered her several times since then, and always heard the same question: “Hey, Pepe, do you still love Jesus?”
How about me – and you – do we still love Jesus? Are we still serving Him as before? Or are we perhaps like the Church at Ephesus in the Book of Revelation, which was told, “You have abandoned your first love!”
Jesus is like a multi-faceted diamond, the Pearl of Great Price. Let’s just examine a few aspects of this Precious Jewel.
Unlike many other religions in the world, we do not worship an abstract or distant god. We worship a God who became man – who had a mother, who ate and drank, who worked as a carpenter, who got thirsty and tired and slept on a fishing boat, who cooked a meal for his friends. St. Francis of Assisi, a tremendous lover of Jesus, looked for ways to make the Incarnation more real and present to us. St. Francis is credited with the first “manger scene” to represent the birth of Jesus, and the Stations of the Cross to prayerfully recall His sufferings and death.
THE NAME OF JESUS
The name of Jesus is above all other names. In His name is all power and authority, in heaven and on earth. His name is a strong tower, and the righteous run to it for safety (cf. Prov. 18:10). There is a beautiful song by the Gaithers entitled, “There’s just something about that name.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux says the name of Jesus is “honey in the mouth, music in the ear, joy in the heart.” Praised be the Holy Name of Jesus!
THE HEART OF JESUS
“Behold this heart, which has loved so much yet is so little loved in return” (words of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque). The heart of Jesus is a burning furnace of love for us. The heart of Jesus, pierced for our salvation, is the fountain from which pours water and blood, love and life, mercy and forgiveness for us all. Jesus predicted a time when the “love of many would grow cold” (cf. Matt. 24:12). In such a time, may we draw from the source of Living Water – the heart of Jesus. Praised be the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
THE BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS
“Take and eat, this is my body. Take and drink, this is my blood.” “The blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7). “The dwelling of God is with men” (Rev. 21:3). These and many other Scriptures are fulfilled in the Eucharist, the sacrament of love. The song, “Look Beyond” says: “See his love poured out as blood.” St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: “O Sacred Banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is recalled, the soul is filled with grace, and the pledge of future glory is given to us” (Antiphon for Corpus Christi). Praised be the Most Holy Body and Most Precious Blood of Jesus!
THE PASSION OF JESUS
For those who love Jesus, the Shroud of Turin is a truly exquisite gift, a living record of his suffering, death, and resurrection. Jesus was pierced for our offenses and wounded for our transgressions (cf. Is. 53:5). All great saints, lovers of Jesus throughout history, have been intensely devoted to the Passion and Wounds of Jesus. The Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem has one of the best Shroud exhibits in the world, including a full-size replica of the body of Jesus as it was when placed in the tomb. It is impossible to contemplate it without weeping for our sins and for “his love poured out as blood.” Praised be the Sorrowful Passion of Jesus! Praised be His holy and glorious wounds!
THE RESURRECTION AND EXALTATION OF JESUS
The Book of Revelation presents the face of the risen Jesus as shining like the sun at full strength (Rev. 1:16). There is an ancient hymn which proclaims: Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat – Christ conquers, Christ rules, Christ commands! These words are inscribed in the mammoth obelisk in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, along with the inscription, “May Christ defend His people from all evil! Behold the Cross of the Lord; Flee bands of enemies. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered” cf. Rev. 5:5). Our faith and hope are in a risen and exalted Savior, who lives to die no more! “The Prince of Life, having died, reigns living” (Easter Sequence).
“HEY, FRIEND, DO YOU STILL LOVE JESUS?”
My wife, Patti, was at a conference when Pepe Prado was speaking on this topic, talking about his evangelist friend and her famous question. At the end, he asked the question, “Hey, friend, do you still love Jesus?” Then he said, “Turn to your neighbor and ask them.” My wife happened to be seated next to Fr. Raniero Canalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household. Spontaneously, each of them gave the same answer, “Yes, but not nearly enough!” Your answer and mine would probably be the same: “Yes, but not nearly enough!”
So, what shall we do? I think of the hymn that I, and many of my generation, grew up with, “Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All,” especially the line, “Oh, make us love Thee more and more. Oh, make us love Thee more and more.” I also think of a line in an old Pentecostal chorus sung in prayer groups some 40 or 50 years ago: “I want more of Jesus, so I’ll give Him more of me!”
That pretty much sums it up.