See Yourself in the Story of Jesus

Book review of Reflections on the Christian Life

Reflections on the Christian Life

How Our Story Is God’s Story

By Anthony Esolen

Sophia Institute Press, 2013

176 pages, $14.95

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Long ago, a certain man was alive, just as we are alive now.

He taught, did miracles and made a name for himself during his brief 33 years.

But he was not just a teacher, a wonder-worker or a prophet. He did not just come briefly into the world and go out of it. He left his mark on it, changing it, just as a sacramental character is imprinted on the soul — forever.

That’s what Anthony Esolen’s Reflections on the Christian Life is about. And more.

It is about us and how our lives need no longer come into this world briefly and go out, as if they were, as the author says, "just a string of episodes, with no ultimate meaning."

This book is about how Christ gives meaning to our lives.

This is not one of those books that you read front to back to try to pick up doctrinal knowledge — though you will. You don’t read it to be entertained — though Esolen is always hard to put down.

You read it to remember — a longing that was etched into your human heart, painfully perhaps, but beginning to be filled in and healed in your baptism.

Through story, this book takes you out of a world that would forget its share in infinity, a world that prefers its finiteness, as it rushes to buy and sell, to distract with spectacles — and to hold off death for those who count themselves fortunate, while dealing it out to those who are in its way.

Not so long before Jesus was to give himself to be slain by wicked men — that is to say, by us — only a few days before his passion, the followers of Jesus — his good friends who hardly understood a word he said — were squabbling over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom. They were bound to time, and they thought in time. They thought the Kingdom would come to be in the same sense that the Roman Empire had come to be, only that the Lord’s Kingdom would not fail. They had in mind the wrong sort of kingdom and the wrong sort of beginning. So Jesus took a little child and set him in their midst. Are we any different than those thick-skulled disciples?

Pick up Reflections on the Christian Life for five, 10 or 20 minutes at a time and see yourself in the story of Jesus’ life: his entrance into a world worn down by the wages of sin and mortality, just as yours was; his share in your burden, not as one who merely sympathizes from the outside, but as one who takes it on — all the while taking what you dish out and responding with a plea to his Father to spare you.

Powerful reading for our Christian lives.

Susie Lloyd writes from Whitehall, Pennsylvania.