21 Feb 2017
Once again, the gospel—the “good news”—leaves a bad aftertaste. First, he tells his disciples that he’s going to be eventually killed. And then he highlights, again, the importance of welcoming the lowly and, indeed, becoming one of them. The gospel oftentimes flies right in the face of what we think is important. And so, sometimes it’s hard to see the “good news” in the good news.
But the deeper direction Jesus is trying to take us is the direction of commitment. This past weekend, we heard about how the Christian commitment to love is what sets us apart in the world; the commitment makes us holy, and God’s brand of love is what moves the world in a positive direction. And so, the “good news” behind the bad aftertaste in today’s gospel is that Jesus is encouraging us to be loving people—ahead of everything else. And the good news is that our God knows we can do it. Our God has faith in us . . . if we have faith in him.
And to be loving is hard work sometimes. It means that, sometimes, somebody else’s wants and needs are more important than our own. It means that, sometimes, we need to set aside our own cleverness so that God can do his thing. It means looking into a neighbor’s eyes, into a stranger’s eyes, and simply welcoming him or her; being curious about those around us, and letting their love mold and shape us.
To actually be loving is hard work and, let’s face it, it can be scary. That’s the bad aftertaste of the gospel. Love has a price. But the price is worth it because, in the end, the only thing we’ll be left with—for all eternity—is love. And that is good news.