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Andrew and the Exceptionality of Jesus


What does "exceptional" mean?

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peter1sWhen can something be defined as "exceptional"?  When it corresponds adequately to the heart's original expectations, however confused and hazy one's awareness of it may be.  Exceptional is, paradoxically, when what is most "natural" for us appears.  And what is "natural" for us?  That what we desire should come true.  For nothing is more natural than the satisfaction of the ultimate and profound desire of our heart, nothing is more natural than the answer to the needs that lie at the root of our being, those needs for which we actually live and move.

Our heart has an ultimate, imperious, deep-set need for fulfillment, for truth, beauty, goodness, love, final certitude, and happiness, So to come across an answer to these needs should be the most obvious and normal thing.  Yet, on the contrary, this correspondence, which should be supremely normal, becomes supremely exceptional for us.  To come face to face with something absolutely and profoundly natural, that is to say, something that corresponds to the needs of the heart that nature gives us, is therefore something absolutely exceptional.  There is, as it were, a strange contradiction: what normally happens is never truly exceptional, because it does not respond adequately to the needs of our heart.

It is the exceptionality of the figure of Christ, then, that makes it easy to recognize him, For John and Andrew, that Man corresponded to the irresistible and undeniable needs of their heart in a way that was unimaginable.  There was no one like that man.  In the encounter with him, they felt an unimagined, unimaginable correspondence to the heart that they had never before experienced.  What an unprecedented astonishment he must have awoken in the two who first met him, and later in Simon, Philip, and Nathanael!



guissani Monsignor Luigi Giussani. "Andrew and the Exceptionality of Jesus." excerpt from Generating Traces in the History of the World: New Traces of the Christian Experience (Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010).

This excerpt appeared in Magnificat.

Reprinted with permission of McGill-Queen's University Press.

The Author

guissaniguissani1Servant of God Monsignor Luigi Giussani (1922-2005), as a result of his encounters with young people, began a method of communicating the Christian faith, starting from the fundamental needs of human experience. He founded the Catholic lay movement Communion and Liberation in 1954. His books include Generating Traces in the History of the World: New Traces of the Christian Experience The Risk of Education: Discovering Our Ultimate Destiny, At the Origin of the Christian Claim, Is It Possible To Live This Way? Volume 1: Faith, Is It Possible To Live This Way? Volume 2: Hope, Is It Possible To Live This Way? Volume 3: Charity, The Religious Sense, The Journey to Truth is an Experience, and Why the Church?

Copyright © 2010 McGill-Queen's University Press
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