The first question:
Well, I was brought up as a Catholic, so how come Jesus is a stranger to me?
Jesus is always a stranger. It does not matter whether you were brought up as a Catholic or a Protestant or a Hindu or a Mohammedan. The very being of Jesus is that of a stranger, because he is an outsider. He lives on a different plane, he lives in a different dimension: he lives in God, you live in the world. He talks a different language; he talks about things you have not even dreamt about. You cannot trust him. You cannot even understand him; he is incomprehensible.
You may have been brought up as a Catholic; that means you have been taught from your childhood things about Jesus. Those are simply words; you have not been introduced to Jesus, because that introduction is possible only through meditation – not through any kind of teaching, not through the Catholic catechism. It is all rubbish. In fact, rather than helping you to become acquainted with Jesus it becomes a barrier; you become knowledgeable. You know many things about Jesus without knowing Jesus. The more you know about him, the less you think that you need to know him. You become satisfied by and by; you start feeling that you already know him without knowing him at all That’s what Christian teachings do And the more you have been taught, the more you become familiar, the more it breeds contempt.
So sometimes it happens that one who has not been brought up as a Christian may have fresher eyes to see Jesus, because his mind will be uncluttered. He will not know anything, he will look through innocence. He will not have any conditionings, he will look empty. He will approach Jesus without any prejudice for or against. And you can know Jesus only when you go nude, naked – naked of all beliefs, naked of all prejudices, when you approach him without any preoccupation, when your mind is utterly silent.
So in fact the Catholic upbringing has done just the Opposite.