Monday, April 2, 2012

Pious imagination almost never envisions Jesus as we encounter Him in certain Gospel passages. Consider the reading in the common lectionary for today, John 8:51-59, in which Jesus enters into a heated argument with his listeners. This was not a calm conversation -- it was an outright fight, at the end of which the listeners wanted to kill Jesus on the spot. They respond to His comments, "Now we are sure that you are possessed,” and He goes on call them liars. Scour the gospel texts and find in Jesus a man, fully human, who wept to think that His ministry was ineffective, who flew into a rage in seeing the Temple precincts filled with merchants, who shouted out in utter frustration, “What do you people want from me?”, who sometimes just wanted to be alone, and who enjoyed a good time with friends. As we prepare again to walk with Him through the events of His final entry into Jerusalem, His Passover meal with his closest associates, His betrayal by one of them, His humiliating and agonizing death, His awkward encounters with friends after rising to new life, it is essential first to consider anew how deeply, truly, fully human this man was. He was not a plaster statue, but flesh and blood. When He felt elation he was thoroughly overjoyed and laughed like any man, when He cried in loneliness or angst or sorrow, He felt as deeply as any man, when He was afraid in the garden He was truly terrified, and when He was enraged he showed the same anger as any man. We emasculate the man and diminish the reality of our salvation if we refuse to embrace how fully, truly, deeply human was Jesus of Nazareth.
Msgr. William J. King

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