April 1, 2022

Reflection / John Shaughnessy

In search of wisdom: a touch of humor, an outpouring of love

John ShaughnessyWisdom sometimes comes with a touch of humor, like this piece of advice about women and men:

“Studies show that women who put on a few extra pounds live longer than the men who point it out to them.”

Wisdom can also come with an unexpected measure of common sense, such as when a college football player was once asked, “If you had to be stranded on an island with just one person, who would you choose?”

The young man thought about his different possibilities before sharing his surprising and insightful answer, “Someone who could build a boat.”

And wisdom can be shared with a succinct, straightforward message, such as the two-word piece of advice that doctors, fitness experts and other health proponents constantly give to all of us who love to binge-watch television shows or who take in every second of every game in the men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments or who just sit too much in our jobs and our lives.

Their advice? “Keep moving.”

As we head into the last part of Lent and toward Holy Week, there is also wisdom in adding another two words to the recommendation of “Keep moving.”

“Keep moving toward Jesus.”

As I write stories for The Criterion, I’m especially drawn to sharing the ones that are about people from all walks of life who continue to keep moving toward Jesus, no matter the circumstance of their lives, no matter the pain and heartbreak they have faced in life.

Jesus came face to face with such people as he carried his cross to Calvary.

Veronica came willingly out of the crowd to wipe his face with a cloth, giving him the same compassion that he shared with so many in his earthly life.

So did the women of Jerusalem who wept for him when he crossed their path.

Simon of Cyrene reluctantly helped carry his cross and then became transformed by the suffering Jesus endured and the courage Christ showed after each time he fell.

The good thief turned his head from his own cross—and turned away from the life he had led—to acknowledge the innocence of Jesus, the hope of Jesus.

Joseph of Arimathea stepped from the hidden shadows of his support for Christ to ask for permission from Pilate to bury Jesus.

They all kept moving toward Jesus. They all kept seeing him, looking past the scourges of his battered, bloodied body and his sweaty, dirty, spit-upon face to see the heart and the essence of Christ—just as he had always looked into the heart and the essence of everyone he met, no matter their circumstances.

And as they kept moving toward Jesus, he kept moving to Calvary, to his heartbreaking death on the cross—fulfilling, through the sacrifice of his life, the two commandments that he said should always guide people’s lives:

Love God, love your neighbor.

It’s the defining wisdom of Jesus, the life-giving example he set for us, and the surest path to keep moving toward him.

(John Shaughnessy is assistant editor of The Criterion.)

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