In 1926, Dr. James Allan penned “One Solitary Life,” a short story – a poem of sorts – which describes the life of a seemingly ordinary man who didn’t do anything that we would consider fame-worthy. He grew up in an obscure village and entered the carpenter trade, working with his hands until he was 30. Upon his death, he had no possessions and was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. Yet, “nineteen centuries have come and gone and today Jesus is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind’s progress. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life of mankind on earth as powerfully as that one solitary life.”
What was it about this carpenter that made such an impact? I’ve often found myself pondering this very question. I sometimes imagine what it would have been like to live in the time when Jesus walked the earth and to hang out with St. Mary Magdalene and the Apostles, or our Blessed Mother. What was the man of Jesus like? What did his voice sound like? How would his gaze affect me?
Of course he was God incarnate, which changed everything! And even though there are many reasons for the affect he had on mankind, I always settle on the fact that holiness is attractive. We read about the crowds that gathered around Christ, oftentimes pressing in on him. Why? Because they wanted to be near him, to hear him teach and to be loved by him.
The Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus
Recently, my family and I had the opportunity to travel to St. Louis on a vocations pilgrimage during which we visited the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus. The sisters we encountered there had the same attractive quality people saw in Jesus – holiness! The sisters radiated joy to the extent that I can’t stop thinking about them. They were giddy and childlike in their excitement about their vocation and Jesus being “enough.” I was so attracted to their joy – their holiness – that I left thinking to myself “I need to visit them again soon.” They have something I want, something I need.
The truth is, we are all called to holiness. Each of us can and should attract people to Jesus shining through us with joyful radiance like the sisters. Imagine the impact we would have in our homes, workplaces, and communities if we truly understood and surrendered ourselves to our call to holiness. Imagine how blissfully happy we would be! Now that is attractive!