Many have read with blessing the book Joshua by retired Catholic priest Joseph Girzone. It tells the story of a modern-day small community receiving a simple, personable carpenter into their midst. This newcomer, Joshua, is immediately attractive to the children and the hurting. The adults are more reticent until they realize the guilelessness and helpfulness of a new friend. His wisdom on life is grass-roots but compelling. By the end of the book the suggestion is well planted that Jesus has made another visit to planet earth. Get a copy of this first book in the series.
Recently I uncovered another of Joseph’s books entitled A Portrait of Jesus. Here is a noteworthy excerpt:
On a morning after a night in the hills, He (Jesus) would reappear in the nearby village. What did He look like? Did He look fresh and neatly dressed? Where would He have found a place to wash, or shave, or brush His teeth, or even comb His hair? He probably was not well-groomed. His hands and arms showed the toughness of a hardworking carpenter. Walking the long distances He did on His endless missionary journeys, and not finding restaurants along the way, He must have been slim, though strong and muscular. His features would have been swarthy, bronzed, from walking in the hot sun for hours, and sometimes days on end. His hair and beard were probably not nicely combed, since it is hard to imagine Jesus carrying a comb in His pocket or finding the facilities to shave regularly. His eyes must have riveted people’s attention. Eyes, the mirror of the soul, express so much of what we are. When people looked into Jesus’ eyes, what did they see? I suspect each person had the eerie feeling; “This man knows me. I can tell. I can see it in His eyes. When He looks at me, He is looking into the very depths of my soul. He seems to know my deepest secrets, and seems to be telling me, ‘I know all about you. I know what happened yesterday. I know how bad you feel. I also know how you struggle to do what is right, and how you reach out to hurting people and in quiet ways help them. I want you to know I am your friend and I want you to be my friend. I love you. Do not be frightened. I love you just as you are. Do not be discouraged with yourself. Life is not easy. Remember you are only human, and can do only what God gives you the grace to do. In time my Father will give you the grace to be what He wants you to become, but only in His good time, so be patient and gentle with yourself. In the meantime, know that I love you and I will always be near you.'”
I think that is what people saw in Jesus’ eyes, not a maudlin, sick, sentimental look, but a look that betrayed a depth of vision that cut through all the sham and camouflage, and saw into the heart of each one. The simple, ordinary people struggling to live, with their goodness and crippling weaknesses, drew from His heart understanding and compassion. The mean and the evil and the self-righteous drew from His soul searing anger and instant condemnation.