Jesus was the coolest guy.
And with the Christian holiday of Easter approaching, you may be thinking about him. Whether or not you believe that he died for your sins, rose from the dead, is God in human form, was born of a virgin, healed the blind, and multiplied a few fish to feed thousands of people, Jesus is pretty well-known—and this time of year, most people at least have a passing thought of him.
I’ve actually come to believe that he is a really cool guy.
Growing up in the Upper Midwest as an Italian, Catholic girl, I loved Easter. It meant our long winter was moving into spring. It meant I got a pretty new Easter outfit. It meant that I would wake up on Sunday to a large basket full of chocolate eggs, candy, and other small treasures.
After Easter mass, when we all got to view one another’s brand new dresses and shining, patent leather shoes, we had an extended family gathering with homemade raviolis and Aunty Eva’s delicious Easter cheese bread. There were delicacies only available on Easter Sunday. The sweet, sugary treats were especially welcomed after Lent, as I usually gave up candy since it was a fairly simple thing to sacrifice. After 40 days of no sweets, I could finally indulge with abandon.
I knew Easter was the most sacred holy day, as it commemorated Jesus’ rising from the dead after dying for our sins—after all, most of my Catholic indoctrination was focused on how I could make up for this great sacrifice.
But he, as a person, was still mysterious to me.
In our Catholic school principal’s office (yes, I sat in there many an afternoon), Sister Marie Immaculate had a large picture of Jesus knocking on the wooden door of a brick building. He wore a shimmering, white tunic and had brown hair that was combed neatly on his shoulders. With a slight build and soft-looking skin on his face and hands, I didn’t consider him particularly strong or fierce. He was kind of wimpy-looking, and I had a hard time imagining this man being the same one who turned over the tables in anger when the Pharisees used a temple for commerce, it was hard to imagine. Who was he really?
“Save your anger to fight injustice.” ~ Allan Stratton
Growing into adulthood allowed me to do some of my own exploration into what I believed and who I thought Jesus really was. I gave him some thought because, after all, he is considered to be the most influential person that has ever lived.
It was when I was in college that I determined he was a pretty cool dude—probably quite a hunk too, since he walked around outside all the time developing a great tan and spent many years as a carpenter building some upper body strength. I’ve always liked long hair on men, so I could imagine his sun-bleached, shoulder-length hair a bit looking a bit disheveled in a sexy way.
(I wonder if Sister Marie Immaculate might be turning over in her grave with the mention of “sexy” and “Jesus’” in the same sentence?)
While I no longer regularly attend Catholic Church, I have integrated some of Jesus’ teachings into my life and my own value system. While, like all heroes and heroines, he may be half-truth and half-myth, I hope you too will find some inspiration from him this Easter.
1. Jesus took a stand for what he believed and took action to stand by his convictions. He confronted injustice and took many risks as he honored what he believed was just and right for all people.
2. He celebrated life and his relationships with others. Jesus loved to have dinner with friends. He enjoyed a good glass of wine and hung out with crowds of people almost every day. Relationships were important to him; he loved many and enjoyed having fun.
3. Jesus meditated. Remember when he spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert contemplating his destiny? He spent a lot of time preaching and teaching in crowds, but like all good yoginis and yogis, he knew the necessities of time alone, time to meditate, and time in nature.
4. Compassion and kindness were always first with him. Remember when the Pharisees brought the adulteress to him and asked how she should be punished? He took his time, drawing with a stick in the sand and then gave a simple direction: “Whoever is without sin, cast the first stone.” He also wept when he thought his friend, Lazarus, had died.
His heart was full of love.
While I no longer believe that I am inherently sinful, or that Jesus died for my sins so I would be saved from the fires of hell, he is still inspirational to me.
A complex man who is difficult to understand in many ways is, to me, a really cool guy.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” ~ Jesus Christ, Matthew 7:12
Author: Sally Bartolameolli
Image: Elephant Archives
Editor: Callie Rushton