At the beginning of Lent our pastor gave everyone in our parish some homework to do. He asked us to read the Gospel of Mark. He wanted us to first just read through the entire gospel once and then to go back and read it a second time with a particular purpose in mind. He wanted us to ask ourselves, “Who is Jesus?” He wanted us to find a new understanding of our Lord and he hoped we could do so through prayerful reading of Mark’s gospel account.
I sat in the pew with a smile on my face. Ah! This was going to be easy! First, I loved to read. Picking up my bible wouldn’t be hard. I loved to immerse myself in the Word. Second, as a well catechized Catholic I already knew who Jesus was. It wasn’t going to be hard to discover His identity. Third, well, I like homework and so being assigned a little homework didn’t seem like “work” to me. I couldn’t wait to get home to start.
When I started on my homework I was a little surprised. I first thumbed through Mark’s Gospel. I had read it here and there but never from beginning to end with just the purpose of reading it all. I found that it was short. In fact, with only 16 chapters, it was the shortest Gospel out of the four. I started reading. Most of the readings I had read many times before at one point or another. I was very familiar with the scriptures. I read through them quickly. The words echoed in my thoughts in the days after finishing my first read-through.
I was happy that I had one part of my homework done! It seemed even more important to me as I felt like I was failing in all the other ways I meant to do better throughout Lent. I was determined to at least finish out this part of my Lenten journey.
I started reading the Gospel with a new focus. I wanted to know Jesus in a different way. I wanted to be able to answer the question “Who is Jesus?”
As I started reading the scriptures again, I took out a yellow pad of paper. On it I wrote who I thought Jesus was- healer, teacher, leader, Son of God, Savior, and many more descriptions. I decided I was going to write down the verses that went along with my “classification”. Son of God- yep! Verses 1:11 and 9:7 both told me that this was God’s own Son. Was He a leader? Of course! In verses 3:13-19 He decides on His twelve apostles- the men He will teach and lead and who will carry on His mission after He is gone. Was He a healer? There were so many verses that showed how He healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, and cast out demons. Yes! If there ever was a healer, Jesus was Him!
My list went on and on. I wrote down verse numbers to correspond to categories I had place Jesus in. Evangelist- 1:38 and 2:17, All-knowing- 2:8, Miracle worker- 5:39-42 and 6:34-44. My list was growing and yet I didn’t feel like I knew Jesus in any different way than I knew Him before. I already knew He was a teacher, leader, miracle worker, and evangelist. What was I missing?
I prayed to the Holy Spirit to show me what I needed to see. Who is Jesus?
My thoughts kept coming back to the story of the Widow’s Mite. Jesus told His disciples, “I want you to observe that this poor widow contributed more than all the others who donated to the treasury. They gave from their surplus wealth, but she gave from her want, all that she had to live on.” Why would this story keep coming back to me? Suddenly I realized why it seemed so important. This one story summed up Jesus and who He was.
Christ gave everything for us. It wasn’t His surplus that He offered; it was everything He had. He gave His leadership, His knowledge, His healing, His compassion, His mercy, His friendship, His forgiveness, His love, and ultimately He gave His life. And like the widow, He did so humbly and selflessly.
I finally could see Jesus in a different light. Yes, I still see Him as a King, the Son of God, teacher, leader, friend, healer, miracle worker, the enemy of Satan, a revolutionary, and my Savior; but now I see Him as the poor widow as well.
Who is Jesus? Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He is my teacher and my friend. He is my confidant and my advisor. He is my rock. He is my world. I see Him in the most unlikely places and in the most unlikely people. He is the widow, the leper, the blind, the paralytic, and the possessed. He is mercy, compassion, forgiveness, healing, and love.
Who is Jesus? He is everything.