Staying Focused on Jesus

August 8, 1996
Brother John Raymond

	Have you ever taken an out-of-focus picture? The result is a
 blurry image. Just like a camera we can get out of focus regarding
 our life of faith and prayer. I heard an Irish priest give a homily
 recently where he talked about visiting Asia. Because he had lived
 in the Catholic country of Ireland all his life Asia was brought his
 first encounter with non-Christian religions. He found some
 similarities between Buddhists and Christians in their religious
 practices. This made him reflect about what made Christianity
 different from other religions. In a talk he was giving to a
 missionary order in Asia he mentioned some of the differences
 between Christians and Buddhists. A religious brother, who had been
 in the missions many years, raised his hand. He made a profoundly
 fundamental observation. He said, "Father, what makes us different
 from them is Jesus." Father realized that he had missed a
 fundamental truth of our Faith.
	At the elevation of the Sacred Host and Chalice at the end of the
 Canon of the Mass the priest prays, "Through Him, with Him, in Him,
 in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is Yours,
 Almighty Father, for ever and ever." Who is this "Him?"__Jesus. As
 this prayer expresses, Jesus is everything for us. He is the focus
 of our Faith.
	We pray THROUGH Him. Jesus said, "Ask anything of the
 Father, He will give it to you in My Name." (Jn. 16,23) How many
 times have we heard petitions and prayers during the Mass end with
 "We ask this through Christ Our Lord." What is new about Christian
 prayer is that we "ask in His Name." (Cf. Catechism #2614)
	If we keep the word and the commandments of Jesus we abide
 WITH Him in the Father "Who, in Him, so loves us that He
 abides with us." (Ibid.) In union of prayer with Jesus the Father
 sends us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. This brings another new
 dimension to our prayer. "In the Holy Spirit, Christian prayer is a
 communion of love with the Father, not only through Christ but also
 IN Him." (#2615)
	Because we go through, with and in Jesus to the Father we see His
 centrality to the Faith. Jesus explicitly told us, "Apart from Me
 you can do nothing." (Jn. 15,5) He is "the Way, the Truth and the
 Life." (Jn. 14,6) St. Augustine, in his usual profound way,
 summarizes three dimensions of the prayer-relation between Jesus and
 us. He says Jesus "prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our
 Head and is prayed to by us as our God." (#2616) All this should
 convince us that Jesus is the foundation of our being Christian!
	Our separated brethren have accused Catholics of hardly ever
 mentioning the Holy Name of Jesus. For example, Brother Craig was
 making an audio tape at a local studio. During his talk he mentioned
 the name of Jesus many times. A Baptist technician afterward told
 Brother Craig it was the first time he had heard a Catholic mention
 the name of Jesus so often. That is sad and gives our separated
 brethren a false impression of us.
	We can get out of focus in our life of faith and prayer, losing
 sight of Jesus. I once entered a small room off a main church with
 exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Only one woman was present. She
 was kneeling, not in front of Jesus in the monstrance, but in front
 of a statue of a saint off to the side. She was out of focus.
	During St. Teresa of Avila lifetime certain people claimed one
 could become so holy that one only needed to meditate on the
 Divinity of Our Lord in prayer. She countered by teaching that in
 our life of prayer we never get so holy that we can "forget the
 humanity of Jesus." Both the Humanity and the Divinity are central
 in the liturgy of the Church. May Jesus, the center of our Faith,
 remain the focus and center of our life of prayer. "Lord, to Whom
 shall we go. You have the words of eternal life!"