These days, Madeline does what ever she can to be the center of my attention. Most of the time her antics are cute and appealing – like when she belts out You Are My Sunshine or dances around our living room like a dainty sugarplum fairy. Of course, there are moments when she tries the whole negative attention approach and chucks a toy across the room or transforms a lovely ballad into an ear-piercing scream session.
I know where she gets this need to have all eyes on her. Other than the fact that she’s 3 years old, I mean. Like my gregarious dad, I’ve always loved making people laugh. I never minded giving speeches. I felt at home on the stage and loved singing in the church choir in college. Before performing or speaking in front of people, I’d get nervous butterflies, but once I was in the limelight they fluttered away and I felt like a shining star. As Madeline would surely agree when she’s vying for my attention, it’s nice to feel noticed.
Jesus wants to be noticed, too, but there’s a big difference between him and me, him and a preschooler who is still learning how to share her mommy with a sibling. He should be the center of the attention, but he’s not going to fight for it. He’s too much of a gentleman for that. He’s not going to say, “Hey, look at me! Look at me!” He’s not going to throw a tantrum. He’s not going to pull out all the bells and whistles, the lightning bolts and the flashing “I am your Lord and Savior” signs. Jesus doesn’t work like that. He’s much more subtle. We have to single him out even if we never have a chance to touch his wounds as Thomas did. We have to believe in him even when we can’t see him. We have to notice him in the crying baby, the really irksome colleague who never pulls his weight, the belligerent teenager, the rambling, long-winded priest, the gossipy friend. We have to invite him into our lives. We have to allow him to be the center of attention.
Scripture: When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” (Matthew 8: 1-4)
Here Jesus performs a miracle and cures a leper, but does he want kudos, globs of glory, or even a pat on the back? No. What he wants is gratitude and for the man to reveal Jesus’ love for him and others through his cleansed life. Similarly, we have to take a step back from ourselves and our desires and let him take the forefront. I’ve found that when I do this, when I offer all that I do for Jesus and make him the focus of my life, I am not only happier, but others seem to be more drawn to me. It’s a lot like kids. When a little one does something positive to get our attention, we are usually eager to shower her with love and attention. Not so much when that same child takes the negative attention route and hurls food across the kitchen table. Are all arrows pointing inward for us? Are we down on the floor, wailing and kicking, throwing tantrums? Are we ones to talk a lot about our faith but to fail to live it? Or, are we opening our hearts to Christ and choosing to lead a truly Christ-centric life?
Spiritual Resolution: Make Christ the center of your attention by spending time with him in Adoration this week. If Adoration isn’t feasible, try to stop by a church (not on a Sunday) and spend some time just talking to him.
Prayer: Jesus, I want you to be at the center of my life. I know that if I make you my everything, then no matter what befalls me, I will have peace and happiness. I invite you into my heart. Be with me now and always. Allow me to be like the leper you so miraculously cured and to use my grateful life, not necessarily my words or showy actions, to humbly express my love for you. Jesus, you are the Alpha and the Omega; you are the beginning and the end; you are worthy of my undying attention.