The Problem of Jesus’ Humanity
We want him to act like a powerful Messiah, and he overturns that expectation. He’s born as a helpless infant—not a military general, popular hero, or political leader. He eludes people who want to crown him king. He’s accused of being a glutton and drunkard, and annoys both religious and state authorities.
One way scripture scholars know a passage is authentic is the “embarrassment criterion.” In other words, early authors wouldn’t invent an action that casts Jesus in a bad light. (Only the secure parent tells the story of a son’s night in jail or a daughter’s unfortunate maroon hair coloring.)
So if Jesus unnerves us, he’s right on target—the natural consequence of his radical call: Forgive as you’ve been forgiven. Much will be asked of those to whom much has been given. If we’re not squirming, we should be.
Look at those who took it seriously—Francis and Clare of Assisi, Oscar Romero, Dorothy Stang. Their attention to living the gospel made them larger human beings. What matters isn’t our discomfort. What matters is becoming saints like them.
Originally published in Everyday Catholic