By Haley Buser, Mount St. Mary’s University
I will never know the identical image of the person of Christ, but isn’t it wonderful that He knows me? Among all the people He created, He knows every fiber of my being. This man is my best friend, yet I am the one to create my own personal image of Him. Building an intimate relationship with Jesus is heavily rooted in truth. One truth that remains steadfast is that Jesus desires to constantly seek our hearts. He strives to love us despite the personal image we may have of Him. Who do you imagine Jesus to be, and how has that shaped your life? Do you recognize His unending mercy, charity, and grace? Are you ashamed to come back to Him in all your brokenness and fear? I challenge you to ask yourself, “Do I believe that Jesus loves me and desires my heart above all else?”.
My image of Jesus includes multiple characteristics of His appearance, voice, and heart. When I look at the image of Jesus in my mind, I see a man that gives off a gentle spirit, kind eyes, and radiant smile. He is standing in front of me extending His arms out in love, and wants to give me comfort. Sometimes I imagine Jesus celebrating during the happiest times of my life, and Him holding and carrying me at my worst. He is right there holding my hand during every season of my life. When Jesus speaks, sometimes I can hear a whisper, or even a soft toned voice. His all loving heart can’t contain what it holds, because He wants me to partake in the same gift. I see this love come alive in my two favorite bible stories that reflect the image of Jesus.
The first unique encounter is between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. This woman sinned on many occasions, but she recognized her failings in a profound way. She physically and spiritually sought to find Jesus using her hair and tears to wash His feet. She was courageous and humble enough to beg for forgiveness in an act of service. Can you imagine the courage it took to even approach Jesus? While others stood around in judgement knowing that she was a sinner, she didn’t pay attention to them, because she had her gaze on what was important. She didn’t let others determine her level of faith or repentance, and only adored the presence of Jesus in front of her. She was ashamed of her sin, but despite her circumstances, knew there was someone who could still see her true beauty. Sometimes we can’t help but think the worst of ourselves, and not how He actually sees us. When I imagine myself looking up at Jesus while I’m washing His feet, I see a face that exudes mercy. I could see Him sharing in my struggle and pain in that moment, where our tears intertwine to become one. I would not feel worthy in the slightest, yet He sees me as precious in His eyes already.
I can also put myself in the shoes of the woman following Jesus through a crowd. She was doing everything in her power to make it to Jesus, and she almost fell short of Him. She was lucky enough to just touch the bottom of His garments, and He recognized that she did. I imagine this woman crawling in the dirt and being trampled by others while she tries to get to Jesus. She might’ve faced the harshest criticism and mockery from others, but she wasn’t afraid to reveal her brokenness. Jesus knew her heart, and that was enough for her to run towards His mercy. We are all trying to escape the uncleanliness of our sin and reach the cleanest robe of them all, but she did it with the humblest heart. So often I succeed or fall short in my faith journey, but He continues to forgive and guide me along the way. If I was trying to chase Jesus through the crowd and did not reach Him, would I keep trying to get to Him? Why do we give up so easily when times get tough? When I touch His clothes, I can only imagine that instantaneous rush of grace this woman felt, and I can’t help but wonder why we don’t strive for the same. If I think I fall short, Jesus is continually giving me the graces to try again, just like He gave this brave and determined woman. He was constantly seeking their hearts amidst great suffering and they chose to surrender. I often picture myself in their position during these stories, because they remind me of myself. I recommend putting yourself in the shoes of these holy women, and imagine how you would confront Jesus in a state of brokenness.
There is beauty in knowing that Jesus is unchanging, whether we are in a deep relationship with Him or not. His grace will find a way to enter our lives when we least expect it. His unending love, forgiveness, and Fatherhood will constantly be seeking to find us, whether we think we deserve it or not. It is easier to watch those around us stray away from Him, but difficult to identify how we may be falling short ourselves. Thoughtfully reflect on the mercies that He has revealed specifically to you in the most joyous and the most difficult times of your life. That is the real image of Jesus Christ, and that will be a truth that will forever remain steadfast.