Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Homily for 8 Mar 2017

8 Mar 2017

There’s Jesus and then there’s Jesus.  There’s the Catholic Jesus, and the Protestant Jesus.  There’s the fire-and-brimstone Jesus, and the big teddy bear Jesus.  There’s nice Jesus, there’s Jesus the mean judge.  There’s Jesus and then there’s Jesus.  And how people perceive Jesus determines if they’re going to listen to him or not.

Now, the Ninevites heard Jonah come and tell them to repent—which they did.  But the Ninevites and Jonah were enemies.  The prophet God had sent to the Ninevites was their enemy; Jonah didn’t really care at all about them, and he seems to have made them repent through fear.  The Ninevites didn’t see Jonah as an instrument of God, but they nonetheless changed their ways.

And so, there’s Jesus and then there’s Jesus.  For some people, Jesus is a pain in the neck; he’s a party-pooper who only cares about making people miserable with all his rules and his talk of repentance.  But for some people, Jesus is the love of their life; he’s the life of the party who loves everyone with an absolute love, especially when we repent.  And those are two very different Jesuses.  The problem is: God sent only one Son to be the Prophet of prophets to humanity.   

And so it boils down to a question of perception.  Those who perceive Jesus as an enemy to everything that’s fun and good aren’t going to listen to him (of course).  But they might repent anyway out of fear of God.  To those people, Jesus is little more than Jonah was to the Ninevites.  But those who perceive Jesus as a friend, as a champion of everything that’s good and true, will listen to him.  And they’ll repent out of love for God, not in fear.

As we consider people in our families, at work, and friends who seem reluctant to follow Jesus in faith, it’s worthwhile to consider: How do they perceive Jesus?  Because, you know, there’s Jesus and then there’s Jesus.  And who we perceive Jesus to be makes all the difference: the difference between repenting in fear of God, or repenting out of love for God.

There’s Jesus and then there’s Jesus.  The question is: Which Jesus do we follow, and which Jesus do we share with others?

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