God is love. Not only that, God is lovable. Consider, if you will, the great lengths to which God went to be loved by us.
First, the big news at Easter: Jesus killed death.
We hate death. Death is the greatest fear we have and the saddest news we hear. It is the dangerous obsession of those who think too much about it, and the dangerous denial of those who ignore it. Causing death is our worst crime and rescuing from death is our most heroic act. That makes Jesus our greatest hero.
Second, he became an embryo.
Everyone loves hearing pregnancy news. Knowing someone we love is expecting lifts us out of ourselves and gives us hope for the future. At the Annunciation, the Word was made flesh via a pregnancy announcement that was so exciting we repeat it over and over again in the Angelus.
Third, Jesus became not just a baby, but a quiet baby.
Everyone loves babies. Anyone who has had a child knows you can spend hours staring at a baby. We can spend adoration hours staring at Jesus in the manger too — and, at least when we contemplate him, he is always asleep, smiling in his mother’s arms, or silently resting in the arms of Simeon.
Fourth, Jesus became an innocent child.
We are fascinated by Jesus the boy found in the Temple or working with his father Joseph — but St. John Henry Newman takes this one step further. He says that if our sorrow at the events of the Passion ever grows cold, we should think of an innocent child being subjected to what Jesus suffered. That shows the true horror of what happened to Jesus, who even as an adult was more innocent than any child ever.
Fifth, Jesus became the most wise and caring mentor.
Newman had another piece of advice: You could also think of a kindly elderly teacher being subject to the Passion. We love mentors because they give us dignity, putting all of their wisdom at our disposal. Jesus is the ultimate mentor; God himself coming to lavish attention on us.
Sixth, Jesus became a healer.
When Jesus heals people in the Gospels, they want to tell the world about him — and they do, such that he can hardly get through the crowds. When he heals us we should do the same. Mostly it is our hearts he heals — helping us finally find the wholeness and peace that we thought we lost forever.
Seventh, Jesus became our nourishment.
Astoundingly, Jesus Christ took the place of the thing we all focus on at a feast — the meal itself. More than that, he took the place of the greatest, most longed for meals of all time: The Manna in the desert, the cup offered to God at the Seder meal, and the Passover Lamb that saved God’s people.
Eighth, Jesus became a redeemer.
One of the hardest things most people face in life is the death of a parent. Parents gave you so much that it hurts, badly, to lose them: They gave you your very life, sacrificed their time and resources for you, and lavished attention on you. Not only is Jesus all of that to an even greater degree, but in the end he died in our place.
Ninth, Jesus became our advocate.
The devil is the accuser, who coaxes us to sin and then denounces us and defines us by our sin once we fall; Jesus is the advocate who asks us not to sin, then stands up for our true self, or deeper truth, when we fail. He even calls the Holy Spirit in on our side.
Tenth, Jesus made us friends with God.
But all of his grand gestures might pale a bit beside the most astounding gift of all. Before he died, Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, said, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
Do you know the 3 words that describe God’s style? Pope Francis’ answer