Introduction: Who Is Jesus? {Jesus: A Pilgrimage}


Welcome to our virtual book club! We’re reading Fr. James Martin’s bestseller, Jesus: A Pilgrimage. Each week we will tackle a chapter and look forward to a lively discussion together.

Jesus book conversation

Jesus A Pilgrimage is made for a book club discussion. It is one of the most “conversational” books I have ever read. Fr. Jim’s style is breezy and affable while at the same time, delivering content that gives much on which to ponder. I have filled my Nook copy with notes and feel like I am talking back and forth with him. I imagine that many of you have said to yourselves, “If only I could talk about this book with someone!” Well, here is your chance.

Fr. Jim lays out his vision for the book in the introduction, a must-read if you are going to understand and appreciate where he goes. It is part travel log (sharing reflections and adventures encountered during his two week sojourn to the Holy Land), part reflection/teaching on the scriptures, and part memoir. Fr. Jim weaves these different elements seamlessly throughout the book. It is intimate, funny, sometimes controversial, and definitely thought-provoking.

What Fr. Jim hopes to accomplish is to help the reader to better appreciate the complete Jesus – human and divine. He opens the introduction with the question Jesus posed to his disciples: “Who do people say that I am?” By visiting the places where Jesus lived and taught, by speculating on the hidden years of Jesus through scholarly and archaeological study of the Holy Land in his time, by examining his miracles and teachings, we can decide for ourselves who Jesus is.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. What were your impressions of the introduction?
  2. Who do you say Jesus is? What is your perception of him as a man? As God?
  3. Was there a section in the introduction that made you pause and think, “I’m not sure how I feel about that”? What was it and what were you thinking?
  4. Have you ever visited the Holy Land? Would you like to? How would you feel about visiting the places where Jesus lived, preached, died and rose again?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from the Introduction, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 1: Pilgrims. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Jesus Book Club page.

Copyright 2014 Susan W. Bailey


About Author

Susan Bailey is an writer, speaker and musician. She is the author of River of Grace Creative Passages Through Difficult Times, published by Ave Maria Press, and Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message, part of the Literary Portals to Prayer series published by ACTA Publications. Along with her own blogs Be As One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion), Susan frequently contributes to and the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers. She has also contributed to and Catholic Online. Susan writes articles and a monthly column known as Be as One for the Diocese of Worcester newspaper, The Catholic Free Press. Bailey, who works as a marketing/advertising assistant for a local real estate firm, is an associate member of the Commission for Women of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, where previously she served as chair and secretary, helping to organize the biennial “Gather Us In” women’s conference, one of the first major Catholic women’s conferences in the country. As part of her duties she wrote the monthly column for The Catholic Free Press known as “Concerning Women” and appeared on CatholicTV’s “This is the Day” to promote the conference. A professional musician and graphic artist, Bailey released four CDs, performed on EWTN, CatholicTV and World Youth Day 2002, and worked as a cantor in her parish of St. Luke the Evangelist for fifteen years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (with concentrations in US History and Music) from Bridgewater State University. She and her husband, Rich, have two grown children and live in North Grafton, Massachusetts. Susan invites you to join her email list where you will receive updates on exciting professional developments and speaking engagements. Email subscribers also receive special giveaways and previews of new projects. Susan loves a good conversation and looks forward to corresponding with you! Join here.


  1. Honestly, I’ve never really wanted to visit the Holy Land. This book, however, is changing my perceptions of that and making me consider how the Holy Land could draw me deeper into relationship with Jesus Christ.

  2. I’ve always wanted to visit the holy land, this really makes my desire even stronger! The intro opens up the book perfectly and makes me want to dive right in.

  3. I was drawn to the book in preparation for my own trip to the Holy Land next spring. I appreciate how this book invites us to ponder the life of Jesus “from below”, understanding Him from an earthy perspective. I sense His delight in our desire to know Him more personally!

  4. Sandi Belleque on

    I am looking forward to Fr. Jim’s experience with Jesus in his life. Too many of us are not ‘in love’ with Jesus and that is where our journey needs to start especially if we are in a position of passing on the faith-parents, catechists, teachers.

  5. Marcy Reynolds on

    I have always wanted to visit the Holy Land. Especially now after reading Fr.jim’s reflections of his first experience. Described so vividly, I felt as if I was right there.

  6. I did visit the Holy Land. I had wanted to for years but was unprepared for the tremendous impact that it had on my life. I will never forget that first morning when I looked out of my hotel room at the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was here! I read and hear and understand the gospels in a whole new way. And my relationship with Jesus has grown so much. I’d go back in a heartbeat if I could.

  7. I have this book and have not finished it, yet, due to other obligations. I think participating in a discussion like this will get me back to it, especially now that I’ve caught up on the other things.

    I, too, have not been interested in going to the Holy Land, but I like going vicariously with Fr. Martin. My sister and niece are going there in June, and I recommended this book to her.

  8. Ildiko Bartolain on

    This book was highly recommended by a friend, who reminded me that we already studied Fr. Martin in one of our faith study class, his book about “My Life with the Saints”. The current book’s introduction promises to be similar in that Fr. will share his experiences and insight, which we all enjoyed. Yes, I would like to visit the Holy Land very much to see what the Lord saw. Indeed, that would greatly enrich one’s faith. I have no trouble seeing Christ as fully human and fully divine, however, there are times when his “gruffness” as at the wedding in Cana comes out answering his mother that the lack of wine was not really his concern (a human reaction) followed by the miracle of changing water to wine (His divine power). I believe that most of us think of the Lord as divine, first and foremost. I am looking forward to be introduced to his human side and to reflect on His total being, especially through prayer.

  9. I visited the Holy Land as a student. Now, nearly fifty years later, I have considered going again. I am sure I missed a lot because of lack of perspective of maturity. But returning vicariously with Fr. Jim is renewing some of the experiences of my visit. Was I more, or less in tune with Jesus then? Hard to say. I have met Fr. Jim and heard him speak several times. The book is like a conversation on the subject very dear to him.

  10. As I have been practicing imaginative prayer there are many things I have wondered about. Where did Jesus live? What did he and his friends typically have for dinner – was bread and fish a typical meal? How long was the walk from Jerusalem to Bethany where Jesus went to see His friends before his passion? I am really looking forward to reading this book thinking that some of these things questions will be answered in Father Jim’s informative and interesting way.

  11. I just finished the Introduction and felt it was wonderful. I have never attempted Ignatius contemplative prayer before. I went to Adoration and put myself with the Disciples in the boat. I was amazed how I could see the fear, feel the water on me, hear the Disciples. it was wonderful. That wasjust the Intro. I have never wanted to go to theHoly Land and now I am interested in going.

  12. Life with Jesus is never the same after walking in his footsteps in the Holy Land! I truly can’t think of a place I’d rather be than walking in the early mornings through the streets of Jerusalem to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to spend time in quiet prayer in the Chapel of Golgotha…. or sitting at Eremos Topos overlooking the Sea of Galilee —the place where Jesus would pray.

    Each morning in my prayer I am taken back to those places and each time I read the Gospels, I can hear, see and smell those places. I am looking forward to reading this book… and really looking forward to getting back to the Holy Land again after reading it! I have been there a few times and was blessed to lead a pilgrimage there last September. I hope to be back there soon!

  13. While reading the introduction, I was amazed at how the author, Fr. James Martin, creatively offers a multi-lens approach to understanding Jesus. Writing this book must have been an enormous feat. I pondered that the Holy Spirit inspired Fr. Jim to blend the head knowledge of Jesus with the heartfelt knowledge of Jesus, the faith experience. As a theology professor at a Catholic university, week after week I teach about Jesus’ humanity and divinity and have felt at times that I have become more head knowledge than heartfelt knowledge. It is on this note that I pondered that by reflecting on the readings of this book along with imaginative prayer will help me make that journey from the head deep into the heart. You can imagine how very surprised I was when my student recently thanked me for teaching explaining that I was transparent when I taught; that my faith shone through. It made me wonder more about my relationship with Jesus.

  14. I can’t wait until we get into the meat of this book! I’m a little more than halfway through now and the two chapters I’ve read the last two nights have been amazing. Fr. Jim is basically leading us through the Gospels via the Holy Land and sharing amazing insight. I feel so much closer to Jesus reading this book.

  15. I have been to the Holy Land and I had to chuckle during the part when Fr. Jim described being a bit overwhelmed in the airport — I had the same exact reaction! I was lucky to have a college buddy who had moved to Israel. She became a tour guide so I had a great historian with me. But what was even more moving to me was that she took such good care of me and made sure I could get to the Holy Sites that would mean so much to me. She is an Orthodox Jew and I’m a practicing Catholic and I think our respect for each other and our shared love of God made for a very powerful experience. She waited for me quietly as I waited on a tremendously long line to get into the tomb at the Holy Sepulcher and hugged me when I got emotional in Gethsemane. Powerful powerful emotions!

  16. A trip to the Holy Land has always been on my bucket list, and I would want to travel on Catholic pilgrimage there if given the chance – to do so with my husband. I’ve lived vicariously through the pilgrimages of some friends and now through Fr Jim’s book.

    I do a lot of writing on spiritual subjects, so I’m looking forward to how Fr Jim unpacks the life of Jesus.

    Who is Jesus to me? Lord, savior, and the friend I cannot live without. He is my healer and the lover of my soul. He is mercy and love. He taught me to love the Father I was once afraid of and introduced me to the Holy Spirit and, over time, to his mother, Mary. (I’ve told others that Jesus is a gentlemen — and when a gentlemen introduces to his Mother, he’s taking your relationship to a whole new level!)

    • I think you’re going to love the book. And I pray that some day we might be able to visit the Holy Land together, with our husbands too! I love your description of who Jesus is to you!!

    • I love the idea of Jesus as a gentlemen that you wrote about too. Also I have a daughter just in the process of being introduced to her “gentleman’s” mother and this really resonated with me.

    • Annie Chakty on

      Pat I rely loved your answer to Who is Jesus? In particular I really liked what you said about him being a “healer and lover of my soul”. I feel much the same about our Lord and in this month of devotion to his mother I have a sense of awe for her not as queen but as a mother who washed cooked and rocked a baby to sleep and journeyed with adult son all the way to the foot of the cross and experienced the joy of his resurrection.

  17. To answer your first question – I am “reading” with Fr. Jim via the audiobook of this treasure. Hearing the book in his voice connects me in a very deep way to what he is teaching. I am blessed to call Fr. Jim a friend, and this past weekend I listened to the first several chapters of the book en route to a retreat. It’s funny, it was almost like having my friend in the front seat of the car with me sharing an amazing experience he had, what he learned from it, and opening the scriptures to me in a whole new way.

    A few things truly struck me about the introduction. I love that Fr. Jim sets out to say what the book is NOT: a new theological proposition or a scholarly Bible commentary. Instead it’s HIS unique perspectives on Jesus based on prayer, experience and pilgrimage. I’m thrilled that I may stand a tiny chance of learning a bit of Greek from Fr. Jim — if I don’t learn it’s a deficit of my brainpower and not his teaching!

    I had the great blessing of traveling to the Holy Land about a year before Fr. Jim did — so for me, this book will be a chance to revisit some of the holy sites we saw but to do so with fresh eyes. Unfortunately my trip to the Holy Land was NOT a pilgrimage — we saw many of the holy places that he describes in the book, but we did so as working journalists. I remember several times on that trip wishing that I could linger in the places we went to, that I could pray longer and in more solitude. My trip to Israel happened during a wet January, so we did have the gift of great privacy in many of the holy places — there were very few people traveling at that time, so that was a real gift. I’m so excited to break open this book, to take this pilgrimage, and to ponder Jesus with all of our friends here!!

    • Lisa…FYI, having gone on an organized pilgrimage I would point out we didn’t really have a lot of time to contemplate our experiences either…it was a jam packed schedule from morning to night in order to cover as much ground as we could in 8 days. My husband and I agreed we’d like to go back on our own to savor the experience more. Having said that I would definitely recommend an organized pilgrimage for the first trip as the background you receive in invaluable.

      May I ask what sort of journalism brought you to the Holy Land? Sounds like a great job!

    • Thanks for reminding me I could get this via Audible! I too enjoy books read by the author as I tend to read too fast and miss important things.
      My trip to the Holy Land was also for work. I was working with NGO’s in Palestine. Because border crossing from Jerusalem into the West Bank and Gaza was delayed, I had my own 2 day private tour of Jerusalem with an Armenian Catholic tour guide…it was life changing. It was before I converted to Catholicism – it was God’s gift to me – no question.
      I am looking forward to reading/listening to this book.

  18. First, thank you for starting this discussion. I have looked forward to reading this book since its release and the week I started it I get an email about this! Fr. Jim’s description of the Holy Land only makes me want to visit even more. Just to be in the spot that Jesus was and to see the landscape he saw, in some way could only make you feel closer to Him, the man. I pray to Him daily but when I am in church I definitely feel closer to Him, as God. When I suffer or am going through a difficult time in my life I can think of all he suffered and I know that He is with me. To me Jesus will always be equally man and God. What I am eager to hear from the book is more of His daily life, and the geography of where He was when in comparison to the Gospels.

  19. I love what Father Jim said in the Introduction!! As I am a Senior Citizen on limited income I won’t be able to visit the different places in the book but Father Jim makes the places come alive for me. As I follow Father Jim on fb and have talked to him in person at LA Congress I have been waiting for this book to be published. It makes the human Jesus more real!!

  20. Dear friends: Don’t worry, I’m not going to be monitoring this discussion! I want you to feel free to say anything. Plus, Susan and Lisa will do a great job. But I did want to say how happy I am that this discussion is taking place on CatholicMom. Also, here’s a little spiritual tip: Pay attention to the places where you are particularly moved when reading about Jesus. That’s one way that God can speak to you. So notice those moments as you move through the book. Overall, I hope you come to know Jesus, the fully human and fully divine one, better in your lives. Because Jesus wants to get to know you better, and encounter you more deeply!

    • You know you are welcome here any time! But also, if we receive a question that stumps us I may take the liberty of contacting you to chime in. I’ve also been thinking that I need to keep a map of the region nearby when I’m reading to connect the various places with their physical locations.

    • I, for one, don’t mind if you participate. I would find it a rare privilege to participate in a book discussion with the author himself…having read the book I don’t think there will be any negative comments about the writing itself….

    • Fr. Jim, there are so many chapters that have moved me deeply (especially chapters 16-17). I read and then just have this burning inside and a deep desire to just sit and ponder like Mary did. I read at night before I go to sleep, a wonderful way to end the day and fill the mind with good thoughts for the night. Please free free to comment anytime. Undoubtedly questions will come up along the way and your insight will be most welcome.

    • Ray Glennon on

      Fr. Jim,
      And know that you won’t be the only male participant on the journey. I am planning to travel along as well. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the book and it is enlightening and enjoyable.

      You have a wonderful way of enabling people of many different backgrounds to see the real Jesus that Pope Francis speaks about in Evangeli Gaudium when we writes: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is Now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen, and free you.” (EG 164)


  21. I’m on my third read, well, listen. It is a big plus that Father Jim “reads” his book, rather than having a regular reader. You get the excitement he was feeling etc. I really love this book, and I do want to go to Israel. Father Jim said this book is not a scholarly bible study, but I feel it know jesus than I ever did before. Sitting in front of the tabernacle, I can “meditate” on what our dear Lords life might have been.

      • Yes, I can definitely see an annual reading … First to refresh the memories of my own pilgrimage and secondly to continue to evolve my relationship with Jesus…

  22. I have traveled to the Holy Land, and it was a wonderful experience, but I would hesitate to call it a ‘spiritual’ experience, or even transforming in any particular way. I did have an overwhelming feeling of awe to be in those places that are so familiar from my childhood religious education. But the impact on me was one of unreality, like needing to pinch myself, because it felt like a dream. I love the book because Fr. Jim makes the importance of understanding Jesus as both fully human and fully divine. I did a six week silent retreat to do the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius a couple of years ago, and I did encounter God. I want to feel closer to Jesus, and I am hoping this book will help me with that. I am just starting the second chapter.

    • Christine…I can relate to your feeling of unreality while in the Holy Land. It being a place you’ve heard about your whole life and the location of such dramatic and formative occasions in our faith results in a very surreal experience! I also found some of my fellow pilgrims a little less than respectful of the sanctity of the trip which was distracting to say the least! I found this book to make the trip more real for me as some of my experiences were similar to Fr. Martin’s….I hope it reinforces your pilgrimage too…

  23. I have never joined a book club and have yet to read this book. I am so looking forward to reading it on an upcoming vacation. I am so interested as I went to catholic schools and need in my adult years to revisit what I have learned. Who is Jesus to me? He is someone I turn to in times of trouble. I feel that he should be so much more than that to me. He also is my guide when I am afraid or anxious. He is in my concern and care for others. I need to learn that he is not just there for troubled times!

  24. I have never been to the Holy Land and may never get there. There is a pilgrimage from our parish this year but finances don’t allow me to consider. I have read about a quarter of the book. Will go back and revisit the sections.
    I find myself thinking a lot about Jesus being human and divine. Had I ever really thought about this or did I fall into the either or mentality, not both at the same time. It’s a new way, for me, to stop and think about Jesus.

  25. How exciting to be reading this book with a group of other moms. This is the most exciting book I’ve read in a while. I love delve deeper into the life of Jesus and I would love to go to the places where he walked. What I appreciate most is the careful research coupled with the ease of reading. I am most able to read at night before bed and that is not the best time to dig into something more scholarly. Someday I may be able to read the sources in the notes, but for now this works. It is also helpful for my work as a catechist. To know Jesus more and more is to fall more and more in love.

  26. I went on pilgrimage to Israel this past January (which is a good time to go, the temperatures were In The 60’s) with my husband, son and about 200 other Catholic pilgrims and Dr Scott Hahn. It was one of the highest points of my life. Now when I read scripture I can picture where these things happened and how Jesus and the disciples lived. Reading Fr. Martins book has been a wonderful refresher of my trip. I’m looking forward to others’ impressions of the book and spiritual experiences. I was in a women’s study group but now I’m working so I can no longer attend and I really miss It so I feel very blessed by this opportunity.

    As for the introduction of the book, I found it to be informative and inspiring. The “itinerary” for our virtual pilgrimage is laid out in an exciting and comprehensive manner. I feel really excited to get to know Jesus. Who he was historically, spiritually, personally …. And to crystallize who he is to me.

  27. I never heard of the Holy Land referred to as “the 5th Gospel”. I find that intriguing and I can’t wait to read this book. I love Father Martin ‘ s writing style. I feel totally immersed in “the story.”

  28. I just finished reading Fr.’s book Saturday evening and I loved it so much. I took my time reading it so I could savor every word. It was so readable…not a deep theological book. I didn’t need a dictionary app to understand it. It makes the Bible stories come to life; also the geography of the area. I have post- its throughout the book.
    I’ll have to go back and reread the chapters as the discussion continues.
    My trip to the Holy Land will have to be through the eyes of Fr. Jim!

  29. I have been so blessed to have gone to the Holy Land twice on pilgrimages. To walk where Jesus walked, to look out at the Sea of Galilee, to go to Cana…was exhilarating. When I read Fr.Jim’s quote of Jesus asking “who do you say that I am?” I knew the book should be in a book club. I finished reading it on Easter Sunday, and I loved every page.

  30. Jayne Rivas on

    I’m not sure what I expected when I ordered this book. I have only been following Fr. Jim’s FB page for a few month and I enjoy it very much. I never expected, however, that I would be unable to put the book down. I have almost finished it and I find it both moving and mesmerizing. I do not think I have thought nearly enough about Jesus the man, and I am now encouraged to do so. I have also been taken by the Ignation contemplative prayer – I have started to try to meditate in this way, and it feels wonderful to put myself next to Jesus to listen, watch and and tell Him of my needs. I have ordered a few of Fr. Jim’s other books as well. I feel like I am on some kind of spiritual renewal through this book and I know that my soul is thirsting to know Jesus in a different way. This book club, my first ever, is a gift! Thank you!!!

    • There is a wonderful podcast you can listen to that will encourage your growth with Ignatian prayer; it’s called Pray As You Go, found at It comes out every day. You can download it from iTunes or listen to it on the website. They do one of the readings of the day and lead you through an Iganatian-type exercise – lasts about 12 minutes. Exquisite music selections too. Of course this is a Jesuit initiative. Oh, and it’s produced in England so you get those marvelous English accents. :-)

  31. I LOVE Father’s book. I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land last November, so when I saw this book come out, I got it right away. I got the audio version so I could hear it read in Father’s own voice – that’s even better, I have to say. His vivid descriptions take me back to my own experiences as I share in his. Now I’m looking forward to re-reading the book and sharing with this group and “hearing” what you all have to say from a wide range of experience and faith. So excited!

  32. I am really excited to read this book. I truly enjoy Father’s FB page and when I found the opportunity for this group, it seemed the perfect way to read the book. I love the clarity and sincerity of Father’s writing style and, for a first book in my quest to know Jesus more deeply, it is a perfect solution. Despite my Divine Mercy prayer group and the bible study group I meet with weekly, my knowledge of Jesus as both God and man seems far to cerebral and not nearly spiritual enough. I feel like this book will help me to change that. And I am excited to delve deeply into Jesuit Contemplative Prayer that I was introduced to in the course of my Jesuit education but never really took the time to practice.
    I will never make it to the Holy Land due to age and finances but I do love reading and watching videos of these holy places. I am looking forward to taking this trip vicariously through Fr. Martin.

    • Karen, I love his writing style too, it’s friendly and welcoming and clear. As a writer I find myself highlighting sections that I think are particularly well-written with the idea of emulating that style if I can in my own work. We all need mentors and Fr. Jim is proving to be a wonderful one.

  33. Ray Glennon on

    As the first male to comment (other than Fr. Jim), I want to say I am looking forward to sharing this pilgrimage with this wonderful group. In response to an earlier tweet, Lisa assured me that this group was not just for Catholic Moms. :)

    For the past few years I have been a regular participant in the Advent and Lent book on-line book discussions hosted by the Henri Nouwen Society ( where the group reads and comments on one of Fr. Nouwen’s books. I have always found the comments of the other participants to be very helpful to me and I’m sure that will be the case here as well.

    I am about 1/3 of the way through the book Jesus – A Pilgrimage started before I was aware of this group. Today was a great opportunity to go back and revisit the introduction. Fr. Jim starts where we should all start – with Jesus – when he writes, “Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine.” And Fr. Jim is a missionary disciple of the New Evangelization who wants to introduce us to the Jesus who he knows and loves, the person at the center of his life. Why is Jesus the center of Fr. Jim’s life? Another Jesuit, Pope Francis answers that question in a way that I think Fr. Jim would agree with when he writes in Evangeli Gaudium, “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen, and free you.”

    I have never been to the Holy Land and it is someplace my wife and I would like to visit. Our interest was heightened having watched and facilitated Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism series for two different groups. And with that as some background, I’m already enjoying to Fr. Jim’s perspective and looking forward to continuing together.

    One final point in this long post, I think Fr. Jim is doing an excellent job of integrating the two essential perspectives of the “human Jesus of history” and the “divine Christ of faith” – which, of course, are two perspectives of the one Truth – Jesus Christ, Son of God and son of Mary, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

    Peace and all good.
    Twitter: @RayGlennon

    • Ray, I agree, that’s what makes this book so compelling. His writing is effortless in the way he integrates so many things. I think it’s really helpful to the reader, as spelled out in the introduction, to know exactly what Fr. Jim was thinking and what he was trying to accomplish in this book.

      Love having the male point of view here! Maybe some of your friends from the Nouwen society would like to join us. BTW, huge fan of Henri Nouwen’s works.

  34. Hope I’m not too late to comment! I really enjoyed the introduction, and am so looking forward to reading the rest of the book, and “traveling” through the Holy Land with you all.

  35. Interesting to hear all the comments on pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Hope to do that in the future. I have a little understanding-when I went to Scotland (home of my ancestors) I felt an immediate connection of homecoming. Going to the Holy Land must be like that – only stronger. Jesus is my life companion -with me every step of the way – providing guidance, encouragement, and forgiveness.

    Introduction was well written and easy to read. Particularly liked the comments about theology ” from below” and “from above”. Also the discussion on Ignatian contemplation. Looking forward to trying that.

  36. Who do you say Jesus is? What is your perception of him as a man? As God?

    I have to say that I have always struggled with this question. Reading about Jesus is somewhat like having my mother describe her grandmother (who I never met) to me. I know that she loved her grandmother, and I enjoy the stories, but I have a difficult time experiencing a personal connection to someone I have never met. Of course, there are parts of my mother’s personality which she got from her own mother and grandmother, so the fact that I love her helps me ‘want’ to know and love someone who she loves. Not sure if this makes sense…do others struggle with this question?

    • Faye: thanks for your honesty … I did have a time away from the church but was fortunate enough to have a lightning bolt moment while taking a program called the Alpha Course where I clearly understood Gods personal love for me and who his son is. I will pray that this discussion will facilitate a similar experience for you. Just be open (if you want…obviously if that’s not what you’re looking for then I wouldn’t impose). Blessings, Ann

    • This is the beauty of this book. Fr. Jim does a wonderful job of portraying Jesus as a someone we can relate to. I don’t want to give away the store but let’s just say that Fr. Jim’s weaving in of his own experiences along with wonderful insight into the different stories in the gospels plus his having actually been to these places has made Jesus come alive for me in ways I could never have imagined. I read a chapter and my heart and mind just burn with longing and I want to ponder on it like Mary did. This is why I was so hot for this discussion group because I just know there are others who will experience it too. Faye, I hope you will.

      As a suggestion with regards to your grandmother, if your mother has any handwritten letters from her mother that she can share with you, that can help make a connection. I have a letter from my grandfather addressed to my mother’s sister during a hard time and I found that holding the paper he touched, reading his handwriting, made his words come alive on the page. It’s that tactile experience that helps make connections. I love reading old letters (once I can decipher the handwriting! :-)).

      Too bad we don’t have Jesus’s handwriting to look at. Wouldn’t that be something!

  37. I hope I am not too late to join the group, my copy of the book arrived today. I look forward to starting this journey! My husband and I have a trip to the Holy Land on our wish list but timing is the key. This will be perfect right now!

  38. Started reading the book recently. Simply got distracted by family issues.
    This reading and discussion, will be a great way to center my prayer through
    reading Fr Jim’s book.
    Someday, maybe those of us who have never been to Israel, can possibly
    ago there.
    I hope you will be patient with my pace, it seems I am a bit behind you.

  39. I found Fr. Martin’s style of writing very warm and rather casual even though he could have treated his topic with complexity and depth. I felt as if I were with Jesus listening to him ask his disciples “Hey Guys, what are people saying about me on the streets? and after listening to their comments saying “Hey! What about you? Who do you say I am? I felt that it was a very personal invitation to me to examine my own feelings about Jesus. Who is he in my life? How does he affect my life? Do I respond “faith-fully” to what he asks of me in my life? The idea that Jesus’ identity as the fully human Son of God remains a beautiful mystery to me, one worth pondering, and one that I hope to make through and with Fr. Martin and others in prayer, experience and maybe someday even in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with my church which sponsors tours periodically.

    • I agree. It’s obvious Fr. Jim did his homework as evidenced by all the footnotes. When you get steeped in research it can be hard to share it in a way that is accessible to all but he does that seemingly so effortlessly. The way I ponder each chapter makes me think of Mary pondering her life with Jesus.

  40. I am so excited to be part of this book discussion. I was curious about the book when it was released. This discussion is what I needed to purchase it and start reading. Thanks so much. Looking forward to the journey

  41. I started reading Fr.Jim’s book a few weeks ago during my morning prayer. When he posted about the book club I was very excited.

    I have recently returned to the church after a few years. I’ve always been a fan of the Jesuits and when Pope Francis was elected it was a sign for me to return. Even though I had fallen away I remained prayful but felt like something was missing.
    Jesus for me is my Lord, Savior and Friend. Someone I can always count on to be there through good times and bad.

    I never had any thoughts on going to the Holy Land and now it’s on my radar. I may never get there but I’m happy to experience it through Fr Jim and the eyes of the people in this group.

    • It’s fun that Pope Francis is there right now so we can follow him on the journey as well as follow it in the book. I love Fr. Jim’s posts on Facebook about Pope Francis’ trip to the Holy Land.

  42. I am almost finished reading the book and enjoyed it very much. As others have noted Fr. Jim has a very friendly and understanding writing style. I feel as though I am still coming to my own understanding of who Jesus is to me, and like the disciples, in the introduction, would probably be hard pressed to explain this! I will enjoy rereading the book over the next months and sharing with the others in this group.

  43. Hi Susan, it’s really cool of you to start this book club. I wrote an exam recently and had to put this book on the shelf for a while. Would love to read with you guys. I don’t have a lot to say about the intro but one thing caught my eye. There’s a line about visiting the family home of a friend to get to know them better. I totally get that! When you love someone you want to know everything about them! Some of it I can relate to, other stuff is such a mystery to me. I’ve resolved that the only way to love Jesus is to spend time with him, divinity, humanity and all.

    • Toni, welcome! That’s true that family members can reveal a lot about a person. You can see traits passed down and it helps you know that person better. I am really enjoying getting to know Jesus as a man through this book.

  44. I’ve never really had a problem with the whole Jesus being both fully human and fully devine issue. However when I read Fr. Marin’s question in the introduction about to what extent was Jesus the man conscious of Jesus the Son of God. Since we know so little about Jesus between the time just after his birth to the time he began his ministry, all sorts of questions started rattling around in my brain. When did Jesus become aware of his Devine self? Did Jesus learn to read the Torah? Did Jesus get into any trouble as a kid? There’s plenty more of these questions, none of them are really important theologically but have given me a new insight to the fully human part of Jesus and what that means for me.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of this journey with Fr. Martin and my fellow readers.

  45. Martha Coyne on

    Quick comment so as not to get my foot in the door. Got the book pronto through Amazon dealer but didn’t get started right away and so, as usual, behind the starters. Finished the Intro but almost feel like I have to read it again before I comment. Will catch up with ya’ll later. Enjoying the comments–I’m a retired senior citizen and avid reader so usually have 2 or 3 books going at a time but will have to concentrate on Jesus — shouldn’t be hard to do!! Bless you all–love following your thoughts and comments.

  46. Julett Broadnax on

    Well, am rereading the book to participate in this discussion and have so enjoyed reading all of the comments. I am afraid I am past the age/stage of being able to walk on a pilgrimage, but through the Jesuits, have learned to use my imagination. In leading individual silent retreats, some people have only related to Jesus as divine. It has helped to lead them on meditative visualizations of Jesus as human – for then he becomes a personal companion – not someone lofty “up there.” I think Fr. Martin’s description and reminder of how his own disciples were amazed and confused certainly helps us to accept our own lack of understanding at some of Jesus’s ways. I am delighted that you are leading this discussion to help me take the time to more meditatively reflect on what the book contains. To me, it will become a time of prayer and sharing it with companions on the journey will take on new meaning as well.

  47. I am the tortoise in the group. Just kept starting the
    introduction got sidetracked, and started reading the
    same pages again. I like most of
    you accept easily the belief that Jesus is both fully
    human and fully divine in one human being.
    To me that belief is a faith based on grace.

    I do have a question. In the very beginning of the
    introduction Fr Jim asks, “Who do you say I am.”
    Jesus asks Peter the same question.

    My question to you is, what do you call Jesus?
    I call him my best friend, and at the same time
    I call Jesus, Abba, yet possibly because Abba
    means Father, the context of Abba is incorrect.

    • Hi Stephanie : Regarding your question about Jesus as Abba….Abba does mean Father in Aramaic….however I think that if you feel a fatherly relationship with Jesus that’s fine. Fathers figures come in all “sizes”….some are brothers, cousins and even mothers! It’s the relationship that matters, not the name….

  48. Am honestly now plowing slowly through the book, while at the gym riding a recumbent
    bike. Makes the time fly,,and it us a no distraction journey which is not always easy to
    Am into reading about Jesus’ private, meanwhile totally savor ing Fr Jim’s amusing
    comments about the cab driver, and climbing through the small arch in the church on his
    knees. Thanks for that Fr Jim, I don’t do knees any longer. Knee replacements are
    not always compatible with kneeling.

  49. If any of you besides me had book marked this chapter. I did & kept checking back, to see no new responses. The group is now on Chapter5.

    Needed to back out of the site and restart looking and finding this discussion group again..

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