I must admit I was both surprised and not surprised by the controversy over Jesus’ cameo appearance at the Super Bowl. I knew it was coming. But I did not know the exact time.
I expected the “Jesus” ad to be controversial. But I did not expect to rile both ends of the US “culture wars.”
In case you missed it… Jesus appeared twice during what some have called the Super Bowl of Super Bowls. A 30-second ad in the first half followed by a 60-second spot in the second half of the Super Bowl.
Oh yes, the two ads cost an estimated 20 million dollars… a pittance of a projected one-Billion-dollar three-year campaign under the umbrella of an unlikely coalition of donors named “He Gets Us.”
In this Vincentian Mindwalk I explore reactions.
First some facts!
The two ads were part of three-year campaign that first surfaced in March 2022. For the first 10 months, the “He Gets Us” ads have shown up on billboards, YouTube channels, and television screens — most recently during NFL playoff games — all spreading the message that Jesus understands the human condition… and loves even the despised of the world.
Since the spring of this year, He Gets Us videos have gathered nearly 6.5 billion (yes, billion) impressions. They’ve been watched over half a billion times on YouTube alone. As of writing this, He Gets Us ads garner over 1.3 million viewers every single day across HeGetsUs.com ,YouTube, and other sites.
Who is behind this?
Much is being made of the donor list and its association with wealthy donors on both the left and the right. In the spirit of “follow the money”, money “guilt by association” judgments run rampant. If so-and so is funding the venture, then there must be an obvious “radical right” or “liberal left” hidden agenda.
Some are asking the “Judas question” … should not this money have been used to alleviate poverty?
However, I have yet to see serious writing about how the project is in fact influencing its target audience…
- skeptical “nones” who are turning away in droves to take a second look at Jesus
- Sunday morning Christians who have yet to realize that Jesus loves those they hate and exclude from their safe havens.
Earlier I wrote how the 24 episodes of “The Chosen” have led me to a deeper experience of the challenge and interior struggles of the early followers of Jesus.
I have come to a deeper understanding of how St. Vincent “encountered” the scripture. His prayerful imagination of being each person in any given gospel seems to me to have transformed him from an ordinary cleric of his day into the Saint who changed the face of France.
I have a similar reaction when I see the vignettes of “He Gets Us.” A light goes on. I connect the dots between the events we experience and how Jesus responded to similar events in his day. The clothes are different, but the dynamics are the same!
I stop in my tracks and think! Am I Christ-like in the modern expression of what Jesus taught and lived?
As an old saying stated, “Your mileage may vary.” But you won’t know until you put yourself in that situation.
“He gets us!” gets me out of my head and into an encounter with the Jesus disguised in the events of life today.
It’s to work toward that kingdom of friendship and mercy that Jesus himself was building. And anything that helps inspire others to do that is worth paying attention to and learning from.
As Jesus would say “Come and See”!
Deacon Greg Kandra offers the link these two ads.
You can find more of He Gets Us ads here.
John, my understanding is that in the long run, after roping people in with these “innocent” ads, the real agenda of rabid anti-LGBTQ+ will follow, which makes the huge expense understandable. I’m very leery of this kind of stuff. The far right has the deep pockets to do this. As if we weren’t divided enough in this country!