With the onset of Lent, it is a good time to write about a little book (187 pages) by Matthew Kelly called “Rediscover Jesus.” St. Raphael’s parish in Crystal, where I went to Mass the Sunday after Christmas, was giving them out free. I am told many parishes gave away copies of the book in an effort to catechize, albeit minimally, people who only come to Mass at Christmas and perhaps one or two other times per year. A few years ago, I picked up a free copy of Kelly’s “Rediscover Catholicism” after a Christmas day Mass at Holy Family in St. Louis Park under the same premise.
Christmas season distribution for “Rediscover Jesus” makes sense because it gets the book into the hands of readers just in time for Lent. The book is divided into 40 short chapters, offering a useful daily reflection during the six weeks leading up to Easter.
I know serious Catholics who say Matthew Kelly is too remedial or too “pop culture” for them, but I would challenge any Catholic to read all of “Rediscover Jesus” and not find a few worthy topics for serious reflection. Whether you are a graduate student studying theology or a neophyte to the faith, you likely will deepen your relationship with Christ if you take time to think and pray over some of the concepts presented in this book.
Kelly confronts us early in the book with the “Jesus question,” referring to Matthew 16:13-20 where Jesus asks Peter and the others “who do people say that I am?” Jesus follows up with “who do you say that I am?” Kelly notes that this isn’t just a question for the apostles, but this is a question Jesus is asking us. Who do we say Jesus is? Are we prepared to answer that question? Can we answer confidently as Peter did: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”? The question is unavoidable.
A couple chapters later, Kelly cites the C.S. Lewis observation that Jesus is either divine, as Jesus claims, or he is a madman. Jesus cannot be a “nice guy,” as so many have tried to label him. A nice guy doesn’t claim to be God.
Once a reader gets past these foundational opening chapters, Kelly walks us through a variety of other ideas – helping the poor, purity of heart, the heart of the Gospel, making sense of suffering and much more. Depending on your experience and thinking, different chapters will challenge you to varying degrees.
Chapter 30 I found to be particularly challenging. It is called “Blind Spots.” Kelly explains that we cannot see things as they really are. I suppose this is the result of original sin; or at a minimum it is simply the consequence of being a less-than-perfect being. Kelly notes that no matter how sure we are of something, no matter how clearly we think we understand, we have to be open to the possibility of missing something. We have to be ready to acknowledge that we might not have the whole picture, that we could be wrong.
The chapter is a call to humility, which may be one of the hardest virtues to develop. But it is essential for a right relationship with Jesus. Humility is seeing our proper place in relation to God. If we cannot acknowledge our weaknesses or even our possible weaknesses, then we misjudge our dependence on God, our desperate need for salvation, and the necessity of his love. The Blind Spots chapter helps to explain why humility is important and if we take Kelly’s comments seriously we can begin to see ourselves – limitations and all – a little more clearly, which helps us to see God a little more clearly.
If you are looking for some good Lenten reading, then pick up a copy of Rediscover Jesus.
Tom Bengtson is a small business owner. He is a member of Holy Family parish in St. Louis Park. Reach him at TomBengtson@hotmail.com