Jesus Today. A spirituality of radical freedom.


Jesus TodayA spirituality of radical freedom.

By: Albert Nolan

Albert Nolan  a Dominican priest from South Africa, played a significant role in the church struggle against apartheid. His first book, “Jesus before Christianity,” has sold 150,000 copies.

In this book “Jesus Today” the author is not looking so much at the historical Jesus, nor the message of Jesus, or rather the spirituality of Jesus. His theme seems to be that it was Jesus spirituality that gave him a radical freedom to stand against and teaching and the forces that oppressed the people of his time. Jesus was first and foremost a contemplative. His busy public life seems to have started about the age of 30 and perhaps lasting for about three years. The time before this is referred to as he hidden life.This means we really don't know where and how Jesus lived those years. However the author feels that those years were filled with prayer, contemplation, and agonizing discernment. How else would he be able to act with such clarity and competence during a short public life? He was fully human and therefore he had grow and develop over time like any other human being. As Luke puts it,” Jesus grew in wisdom and stature.” Luke 2:52

Chapter 13 is a very challenging chapter. The title is “One with God.” The author states that Jesus took God seriously and he challenges people to do that today. Then he goes on  to write that believers today have to outgrow their images of God and enter into the great mystery known as “God” The spirituality of Jesus led him into ever deeper connection to the Divine Mystery and the same thing holds true for believers today. He quotes St. Thomas Aquinas who wrote  that “we do not know what God is, we only don't know what God is not.” However, the author goes on to delve into the mystery of God and how we in turn, like Jesus, may enter into an ever deeper oneness with the Divine Mystery.

Down through the centuries it would seem that Jesus has been domesticated and to a great extent his real message has not been adequately proclaimed or known. However, Jesus spirituality set him free to be true to himself, to be true to his understanding of God, and to the people of his time. The same thing holds true for us today. When we include spiritual practices in our life we to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of God and come to experience radical freedom. This radical freedom enables people to act without fear in living in proclaiming the message of Jesus.

Some readers may find some content of this book very challenging and in fact hard for comprehend. Yet, I found it to be a very enlightening read especially the chapter on Oneness with God. For those who are in touch with their own longing for spirituality this book would be excellent read.