In an article currently featured in the online edition of the National Catholic Reporter, Georgetown professor of theology Fr. Peter Phan is asked the following question:
If most people at Jesus’ time and a large number of people in our time did not know or acknowledge Jesus’ special relationship to God, why were they attracted to him ?
Here is part of Fr. Phan's answer (italics are mine):
"What then is the attractiveness of Jesus? Rarely is it the Jesus as presented by the Christian dogmas in the abstract Greco-Roman philosophical categories. It is rather the Jesus as narrated in the gospels, with his teachings on how to live a fully and truly human life, the example of his life dedicated to the service of the poor and the marginalized until death, and his deep and unconditional love for and obedience to God . In other words, people are attracted to Jesus because in him they find a full flourishing of human life. Let’s note that it is not “happiness” as defined by modernity -- the self-centered satisfaction of material, psychological and even spiritual needs -- that Jesus refers to when he says he gives “abundant life.” Many of Jesus’ teachings are indeed “hard sayings” that require a total renunciation of the self to be his disciples. In spite of this highly demanding ethical ideal, many people are attracted to Jesus, precisely because they find in him the concrete way to live a fully and truly human life."
Read the full article here.
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