These days, my 3-year-old does whatever she can to be the center of my attention. Most of the time her antics are cute and appealing – like when she belts out You Are My Sunshine or dances around our living room like a dainty sugarplum fairy. Of course, there are moments when she tries the whole negative attention approach and chucks a toy across the room or transforms a lovely ballad into an ear-piercing scream session.
I know where she gets this need to have all eyes on her. Other than the fact that she’s 3 years old, I mean. Like my gregarious dad, I’ve always loved making people laugh. I never minded giving speeches. I felt at home on the stage and loved singing in the church choir in college. Before performing or speaking in front of people, I’d get nervous butterflies, but once I was in the limelight they fluttered away and I felt like a shining star. As Madeline would surely agree when she’s vying for my attention, it’s nice to feel noticed.
Jesus wants to be noticed, too, but there’s a big difference between him and me, him and a preschooler who is still learning how to share her mommy with a sibling. He should be the center of the attention, but he’s not going to fight for it. He’s too much of a gentleman for that. He’s not going to say, “Hey, look at me! Look at me!” He’s not going to throw a tantrum. He’s not going to pull out all the bells and whistles, the lightning bolts and the flashing “I am your Lord and Savior” signs.
Jesus doesn’t work like that. He’s much more subtle. We have to single him out even if we never have a chance to touch his wounds as Thomas did. We have to believe in him even when we can’t see him. We have to notice him in the crying baby, the really irksome colleague who never pulls his weight, the belligerent teenager, the rambling, long-winded priest, the gossipy friend. We have to invite him into our lives. We have to allow him to be the center of attention.