It may be a shift to read the gospel and find the opposite of comfort. While it sheds light, it’s no escape hatch. Conflict, tension, and frustration still plague believers. We may respond with the puzzlement of the father who cried, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
We read the gospel for one purpose: to know Jesus better and increase our intimacy with him. We don’t read for warm fuzzies, easy answers, or reinforcement of our prejudices. Nor will we always encounter “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild.”
He who threatened the cozy assumptions of his contemporaries may have the same effect on us. If we rely on the “wrong” supports, like wealth (Lk. 6:20), family connections (Mt. 12: 48-50), prestige (Mk. 12:38-40) or strict religious ritual (Mk. 2:27-28; Lk. 18:10-14), he’ll challenge us too.
Jesus questioned many of the religious and social customs of his time—such as the strict meal hierarchy, the subservient role of women, and the authority of the Pharisees. Nathan Mitchell writes in Real Presence: the Work of Eucharist, “It is hard to believe he was simply an early flower-child who traipsed through sunlit fields talking about lilies and love! Who would seek to arrest and execute such a sap?” (p. 41)
To be continued…. Originally published in Everyday Catholic