Encountering Jesus

This week someone told me how much she liked my book The Fisherman’s Wife: The Gospel According to St. Peter’s Spouse. She said it made the Gospel come alive for her and helped her realize more what it was like for Jesus to live on earth. She also appreciated the humor.  So this week I am sharing a post about this book that I wrote for someone else’s blog:

I’ve written dozens of books on spirituality and religious education, but only one novel. This is now my favorite book. It is a historical romance in that it develops the relationship between Peter and his wife, but it is also “the Gospel lite.” The path the heroine takes to following Jesus parallels my own path and that of any disciple: knowledge, surrender, commitment.

            Because Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law, we know that this apostle was married. I brought his wife to life and gave her a name: Miriam. I imagined what it was like for her when Peter left her and their children to traipse after this controversial teacher Jesus. In my book, at first Miriam resents Jesus as a rival for Peter’s affection. But when Jesus moves into their house in Capernaum (as the Gospel states), she witnesses his preaching and miracles and comes to know him and eventually follows him.  According to a legend, she was martyred for being a Christian.

As a child I did not really know Jesus, except for a large picture of him my grandmother had, in which his eyes seemed to follow me! When I was twelve, I attended a Catholic school, and the main topic in grade seven religious class was Jesus. So I came to know more about him. In fact, I was attracted to him to the extent that I decided to devote my life to him as a sister. Of course, my knowledge of Jesus has grown over the years as I’ve “lived in his house.” Writing The Fisherman’s Wife brought me even closer to him.

While sitting before the computer typing this book, I became so engrossed in the story of Jesus in Capernaum that it felt as though I were actually living there. When I stopped writing, I didn’t know if it was morning, noon, or night in real time! As I imagined what Miriam might be thinking about Jesus and what she and her friends might be saying about him, my own understanding of Jesus was deepened.

Scripture tells us that Jesus carried out most of his ministry in the town of Capernaum. Therefore writing the story of Miriam gave me the opportunity to do much reflection on the words and actions of Jesus. The book was also a blessing because it required tons of research.  Learning about the customs, political situation, food, and clothing of first-century Jewish people enabled me to place Jesus in a more accurate context. Like Miriam, I came to know Jesus more. I became more aware that he was a real person who walked the earth . . . and someone worth dying for.

You might not relish the thought of writing a novel, but here is a suggestion for making Jesus more real to you:  Write him a letter and talk about anything. Just let the words flow. Sign it “Love (your name).”  Then write a letter beginning “Dear (your name)” and sign it “Love Jesus.” Do not force the thoughts. Just write. You may be surprised!  I met someone who wrote letters like this on his computer. He was amazed.

How do you use writing to develop your relationship with God?

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