Jesus called himself a
"thief in the night"
-- an outlaw --
and, in many ways, even today,
our Lord remains a "fugitive"
who fled from us years ago.
We have no fingerprints and no photographs of him, no portraits painted while he was alive. There are no recordings of his voice, no books written by him.
There's just the testimony of a few long-dead witnesses: men and women who walked and talked with him, broke bread with him, washed his feet, heard his voice, looked in his eyes.
Some recorded small physical details about Jesus; others wrote more about his spirit. From their testimony -- the four Gospels -- we Christians today have general impressions of Jesus.
But until now, no writer has approached the Gospels as would a policeman pursuing a fugitive, intent on discovering every single detail about the one who has fled:
• how tall he is (and how strong)
• the way he stands
• the clothes he wears
• the friends he has
• the places he stays
• his gestures
• how his mind works
• his facial expressions
• and even how he looks at people.
Now comes Giacomo Biffi, retired Cardinal archbishop of Bologna, pursuing clues about our holy "fugitive" with the relentlessness of a Sherlock Holmes.
The Cardinal is quick to answer:
"We pursue him because we hope to embrace him fully. We pursue him out of love. Like every true lover, we suffer being alone and we wish to have our loved one nearer."
Prayer brings our Lord nearer, but so does knowledge: the more we know about Jesus, the easier it is to love him.
Which is why Cardinal Biffi adopted a technique that police use the world over: the creation of a "composite profile" that reconstructs the features of a suspect using recollections and other information police receive from witnesses.
Intent on creating a composite profile of Jesus, Cardinal Biffi collected from the Gospels every scrap of information found there about Jesus -- each glance, each word, each gesture.
With the intensity of a seasoned detective, he organized these precious resources, compared them, contrasted them, and crafted from them a detailed portrait of the human and divine figure of Christ . . .
discovering that often just one or two small or forgotten details about Jesus' life or appearance reveal profound truths that afford us great new consolation and hope, and are helpful for our salvation.
Now Cardinal Biffi has published his findings in The Man Christ Jesus, a modest book that shows forth with total clarity the figure of Christ: a "composite profile" like those that police create about other fugitives.
Here, for the first time is an accurate and truthful portrait of Jesus as he was known by those who walked and talked with him daily -- with every word in it confirmed by the Gospels.
If -- like me -- you dearly long to meet our "fugitive" Jesus face-to-face and to see him with your own eyes, will The Man Christ Jesus satisfy you?
Of course not.
More likely (as it did for Cardinal Biffi and has done for me), The Man Christ Jesus will increase your hunger to know Jesus and quicken your steps as you pursue our "fugitive" Lord down the ways and days of your own life.
As the Cardinal said,
"We pursue Christ because we hope to embrace him fully. We pursue him out of love. Like every true lover, we suffer being alone and we wish to have our loved one nearer."
The Man Christ Jesus will not satisfy your hunger for Jesus, or quench your loneliness for him, but it will bring him nearer -- much nearer than he has ever been before.
"I can say in complete honesty that this is one of the greatest books of our times."
Don Divo Barsotti
Founder, Community of the Children
The Man Christ Jesus
How the Lord Looked, Acted,
Prayed, and Loved
144 pgs $10.95
Order online now or call
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Sophia Institute Press,
Box 5284, Manchester, NH 03108