I settled into my seat, all but 12 rows up from the field inside Petco Park, home of the Padres. I delighted in watching an evening game with my good friend Cort.and the fact that I didn't need more than two layers to take it all in. Thank you, San Diego! From our perch, it was hard not to look at just one player: Fernando Tatis, Jr. Even with all the action on the field, I couldn't avert my gaze from the All-Star Dominican ball player. Tatis, who moved from short stop to right field ran quickly to his post in the outfield. He caught balls at the fence and at the foul line in front of us. He jumped, he hustled, he flicked the ball to his fans. He made it all look so easy.
I turned to Cort and said, "He looks like he could be a wide receiver." I pulled out my phone to get his stats: 6'3" and 217 lbs. The man has wheels. Truly, he is a five-tool player. In 2020, ESPN ranked him as "the most entertaining MLB player." Agreed. In between innings, the screens featured fans and their personalized signs for "El Niño." One woman declared her love for him—and that she was single. He brought additional energy to a place that is already pumping. I left the yard that night and realized what I saw. It's a quality you just can't manufacture. You have it or you don't. It's Star Power. And after teaching Sophomore scripture, I'm more convinced than ever that Jesus had it, too.
What exactly is Star Power? Turns out it has a definition in Dictionary.com! Star Power is allure and charisma. Some link star power to glamour, but I liken it to talent, confidence, magnetism and more. It's notable presence. It's not rare, but it's not common either.Christology, a required course for all tenth graders, examines the humanity and divinity of Christ. With more emphasis on a lower Christology, studying Jesus of Nazareth as a human being was indeed fascinating. An itinerant preacher—this Jesus of History—had to have star power. Think about it. The word was out. He drew sizable crowds; he made fishers of men. He spoke to those on the margins—the Samaritan woman and Mary Magdalene to name a few. In doing so, those margins were no more.
Part of Jesus' star power may be attributed to the fact He was a teacher like no other. He taught with authority and conviction. Long before there were master classes, Jesus is and was the master teacher. His examples were practical, yet quixotic. Even subversive. His apostles left their families and homes to "Come and follow me!"
Beyond His actions—miracles of healing, exorcisms and command over nature, I keep thinking Jesus had to have star power because—to be blunt—we must assume he was average looking. Why do I make that assumption? As noted in the movie The Face —Jesus in Art
Christ's image, often different, yet always familiar has appeared in the art of cultures for nearly two millennia. But, there are no known portraits while he was alive or even contemporary descriptions of his physical appearance.If he was notably handsome or rather tall...if Jesus had a distinctive or exquisite feature, we would have heard about it. I say this because the Gospels are not remiss of other descriptors. For example, we know that Nicodemus is short in stature and that John the Baptist was unkept—he wore clothing made of camel's hair. I have seen images of Jesus my entire life. I never considered what impression his physicality made on his audience. And yet, the absence of this information suggests to me, his star power was super strong.
He had to have a positive energy. My sense is that he looked people in the eye—and did so with compassion. I also think he had a deep awareness of who stood in his midst and the impact He had. Talk about a positive presence...
My recent experience of seeing Fernando Tatis, Jr. on the field after a year of learning studying and teaching the historical and personal Jesus gave me the opportunity think a little more about Star Power. Seeing an example up close and personal led me to consider, Is it something anyone can have/develop?! Or, is it just something—as the name suggests—is a power of certain people.
My sense is yes and no. If it's something you want, first consider: What is your passion? And, where the place where your gifts and talents shine? From there, reflect on what you are like in that (sacred) space. In what ways do you shine? Perhaps your star power will shine through.
I think it's a great descriptor? I think Star Power is real. I say go for it! Develop it and change in the world in the process. I have but one suggestion/requirement: do it in the wya only YOU can. Time for nothing less....