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What Would Jesus Do If He Were In My Place


100 years before it became fashionable to wear a WWJD bracelet, Charles Sheldon was asking the question!

100 years before it became fashionable to wear a WWJD bracelet, Charles Sheldon was asking the question!

Back in 1996, I bought a paperback novel with an astounding history.  First published in 1896,  “In His Steps” has sold over 30,000,000 copies.  Imagine a book still on the shelves after 119 years!  I have read and re-read this story many times over the years, always with a refreshing delight.

Charles Sheldon, the author, begins his novel with the minister of a church offering a challenge to his well-to-do congregation on a Sunday morning.  Dr. Maxwell, the clergyman, asks them to put this question before themselves as they make decisions each day, “What would Jesus do if he were in my place?”

“Do this for a year”, he urges them.  “In His Steps” goes on to tell of four people in the congregation and their experiences in living out this question.  Many others took this challenge to heart, but the novel tells only of the four mentioned: a newspaper man, a superintendent in a railroad yard, a woman concert singer, and a successful merchant.  Although the background of the story lies in the 1890’s, I always found “In His Steps” an exciting and uplifting story, able to send my wishes, “to walk in His footsteps”, soaring.

How do you explain the long standing popularity of this book?  The story grabs the imagination of the readers and offers them a door to a richer and more thrilling walk in life.  Within our hearts, we have a thirst, a desperate hunger for the ideals of Christ, a yearning to be a person of peace and holiness like Him.  The simple question, “What would Jesus do”, provides a clear way to “walk in His steps.”

From hearing the Gospel stories so often, we know how Jesus dealt with many difficult situations.  In everyday living, we meet these same experiences and can face them with the attitudes Christ had.  In following this program, we need feel no tension, nervousness or make it a complicated process.  We just say with a loving heart, “what would Jesus do if he were in my place”, and then act accordingly.

How quickly we would cleanse our inner spirit of all kinds of weaknesses, our selfishness, unjust anger, short temper, our unwillingness to give time to prayer, unhealthy fears about the past or the future, and all our unloving ways of treating others.  From my own experience, I can tell the reader that I never saw such a quick change in my life for the better than when I carried out this practice, “What would Jesus do?”

Fr. George Mc Kenna

March 21, 2015 - Posted by | Bulletins | , ,

5 Comments »

  1. What a wonderful idea. It would be especially fitting to start this practice during Lent when we are encouraged to do penance, make sacrifices and read the Scriptures and try to pray more. So, since we are already on this spiritual journey, we are more open to making changes in our lives that would bring us even closer to God.

    Thank you Fr. McKenna for this great suggestion. I really like receiving these emails with your spiritual reflections. They give me new insight into many things and I can tell they are from your years of walking on your spiritual journey and adopting practices that feed your soul.

    May God bless you abundantly,

    Comment by JoAnn V. | March 22, 2015 | Reply

  2. Hello Fr. McKenna, hope you are well, I will pick up that book, have never read it, sounds like a great way to start, or in my case end lent and something to go back to in future years of lent (of course it would probably be better to just do it all year through:), as always sending inspirational thoughts of our Lord and savior, your passion for Christ is ALWAYS revealed through your words. Many many thanks D. Hurley

    Comment by Anonymous | March 22, 2015 | Reply

  3. Hi Fr. George! Great hearing this story from you – and yes, it is hard to fathom a book being published so long ago and still selling! And speaking of books, I gave a copy of your book (Wisdom from the Pulpit) to a visiting priest who was at our parish for the weekend, and shared with him the story of how we met after my hearing the announcement for Catholic mass starting at Midway Airport chapel. This priest, Fr. Frank Desiderio, leads retreats on forgiveness. He gave a wonderful homily on Sunday, linking the grave of Lazarus with our own ‘graves’ that Jesus is calling us out from – which are the ruts we can get into: the rut of the past – and not forgiving others or ourselves; the rut of the present – and NOT enjoying the beauty of the moments within each day – and the rut of the future – constantly worrying about something that we can not know. It really struck a chord with me. And I was so happy to talk to him and bring him one of your books! Now, he can take those great Fr. George stories with him on his travels. He doesn’t have a home parish, but travels. He is originally from Washington, D.C. I know that he will enjoy your book very much! Looking forward to seeing you soon, Fr. George – just booked my car for my Easter visit! Love you, praying for you daily! Thank you for always teaching us and leading us thru life with this blog! (oh, and I did tell Fr. Frank to look up your blog as well).

    Love,

    Nancy

    Comment by Nancy Kolember Westvang | March 23, 2015 | Reply

  4. Thank you father George for your inspiration.GOD loves you!

    Comment by Ray & Toody Parker | March 28, 2015 | Reply

  5. I love jesus a lot and i have the fear of God which make me scared alot to heat the other people i will always love jesus and never be scared of death since it will be the greatest day for me to be with my loving and grasious lord

    Comment by Mrs christy fonseca | April 15, 2016 | Reply


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