Jesus loves and forgives.
You have probably heard all kinds of nonsense in your life, twisted truths about Jesus Christ. This is not just a matter of today’s enemies of Jesus Christ making up untruths, questioning the teachings of Jesus, confusing people of faith who have neglected their duty to educate themselves in the faith and often settle for what they learned as children in religion class or heard in church long ago. True, those who want to confuse, mislead, and challenge their faith will not settle for something superficial. Typically, they think they do not spare time or effort to make the action successful. It was so in the past, and it is so today.
Let us reflect on one of the shortest Gospels the Church reads through the year; the two heard verses of St. Mark. Jesus went into a particular house with his disciples again. A crowd gathered there, not even to eat. When his relatives heard this, they went out to take him away, saying, “He has been anointed.” (Mk 3:20).
The public ministry of the Lord Jesus was not easy because of the various situations that developed from different causes and with other consequences. Jesus always had before His eyes the will of God, which He wanted to do faithfully in all circumstances. He could no longer have a fixed daily schedule as in Nazareth; he had to change it all the time, eating irregularly and resting according to how many people sought him out, how many sick people sought his help.
We read that some hospitable people invited Jesus and his disciples to food in the Gospel. They didn’t even eat correctly when the crowds demanded to see Jesus. Then some began to stir up the rumor that Jesus was confused. Alarmists and doubters are always found when big and severe things are involved. To these people, it is undoubtedly foolishness to talk about the cross, denial, renunciation for the poor, forgiving and loving enemies, and the like. Indeed, even Jesus, though He was God, yet resembled us men; He had a body, and indeed from these actions, when He had no time even for food and rest, He lost weight. The sleepless nights in prayer, the exhausting preaching, and teaching of the multitudes left even the marks of exhaustion on his face. Relatives had to intercede for him, lest intrusive people attack him. Fanaticism makes people blinded and aggressive.
So, it is today. Many people are seized with chills, hatred, anger at the name of Jesus and at the utterance of a word at all that has anything to do with Jesus and his doctrine. Why? There are several answers. One’s conscience echoes, and he can’t get it right because years have passed since his intimate encounter with Jesus, and much has happened over the years that makes it impossible to sleep peacefully. For another, it has been a disappointment when he thought he had made do with his childlike faith and shipwrecked himself. Another told himself that without Jesus, he would be able to live contentedly. After all, others have lived without him and have it all; they are better off, have been able to enjoy the world more, and have made it higher. It often happens, too, that when a man tastes such bread of life, he feels bitterness, aversion, and foulness in his mouth, and he cannot find a way out of it.
Even then, Jesus acts like a “father.” He forgives, brings his son, and forgets all that was wrong. Jesus did not take revenge on anyone. He did not insult anyone, betray anyone, deny anyone. Jesus forgives even when those closest to him have forsaken him when he bids farewell to life and yet speaks to the repentant thief: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Lk 23:43).
Would a confused man say such profound and beautiful words at such a painful moment of his life? Did anyone love more than Jesus, dying the most stupid death for us, for traitors, mockers, deceivers?
This short reading from the Gospel infuses strength into our veins, fills our hearts with peace, and gives us back a life we may no longer have believed in. Two millennia are sufficient to guarantee that Christ was not a confused man, a dreamer, a fanatic, but a man in whom God, the second divine person, dwelt. This reality, this fact, entitles us not to be afraid for the existence, for the life of faith in us, our surroundings, and our world.
Recently, I read a great thought that a teacher and priest said to King Charles IV of Bohemia: “If you want to dominate the world, first dominate your empire. If you want to rule your empire, rule yourself first.” Conquer yourself first! Prove that you are strong against yourself, that there will be no disunity within you, no sin…
We will quickly recognize a deceived man. Such a person has no backbone. Today he says and claims this, tomorrow he says and claims the opposite. We cannot say this about Jesus. Jesus declared about himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (Jn. 14:6). The pagan Cicero said of the person of Jesus: “Veritas una est et mirabilis” – “Truth is but one and unchangeable.” And that truth is Christ.
Let us pray for the unity of the world, for the unity of Christians in the world. Let us ask Jesus, who declared that he is the shepherd and that he knows his sheep who listen to his voice, that his words may be fulfilled as soon as possible, that there may be one fold and one shepherd.
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