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Amazing Possibilities!

  • Writer's pictureMatthew Kelly

Jesus Was a Radical 2000 Years Ago AND Today

I think our culture's trying to pass off some sort of plaster-cast, candy coated Jesus. And the truth is this plaster-cast, candy coated Jesus is really easy to ignore.

That's why the world is ignoring the Jesus we're presenting because the plaster-cast, candy coated Jesus is really, really, really easy to ignore. But once you get into the scriptures, once you really get into the Gospels and discover and rediscover the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, I think the one thing you're going to discover is that Jesus was a radical. Jesus was a radical. His life was radical. His example was radical. His love was radical. His teachings were radical and his teachings were radical 2000 years ago. And guess what? They're radical 2000 years later. And there's any number of examples of that as you read through the Gospels.

Let's take a look at maybe one. Jesus in Matthew's Gospel says, "Love your enemy and pray for them." Love your enemy and pray for your enemy. And that was a radical teaching 2000 years ago. What was the teaching before that? Does anyone remember? That's right, "Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth." Jesus comes along and says, no more vengeance. Enough with the revenge. Love your enemy, pray for them. Now, when father gets up to read the gospel on Sunday and they start reading that gospel, we think, oh yeah, I've heard that one. Hope he's got a good homily. But what are we missing right there? Right there in that reading, we are witness to one of the great moral, ethical intersections in history of the world.

Jesus says, all right, we're going, we're taking a right turn here, humanity. No more vengeance, no more eye for an eye, tooth for tooth. We're taking a right turn here, humanity. From now on, we're going to love our neighbor and we're going to pray for them. It's a radical teaching 2000 years later. It was a radical teaching 2000 years ago. I think one of the beautiful things about Catholicism is the mass, massively misunderstood, but I think when you delve into it, there's just genius there. And one of the beautiful, most beautiful things about the mass, part of the genius of the mass, is how we pray for the whole world throughout the course of the mass. Okay? If you take the mass apart, if you dissect the mass and you look at all the people and all the groups of people that we pray for throughout the course of the mass, it's quite extraordinary.

And then you think about the idea that right now at this very moment, our family, the Catholic church, the biggest family in the world, is praying for the whole world in thousands of places all around the world, wherever the mass is being prayed right now at this very moment. It's quite extraordinary. And then we have the prayers of the faithful. We have the petitions. We have that moment where we localize our prayer, we pray for the sick, we pray for the little bit sick, the almost sick, the very sick, the partially sick, we pray for the dead, we pray for the almost dead, we pray for the hungry, the lonely, the bored, the depressed, the leaders, the followers. We pray for everybody. And I travel quite a bit, so I visit a lot of churches. But I have to say in a decade, between September 11 and the death of Osama Bin Laden, I'd never heard a prayer in any of our churches for Osama Bin Laden. But that my friends is the Gospel. And it's uncomfortable. Yes or yes?

It's uncomfortable and it is radical. And it challenges us to the core. And if your priest had ever got up and said, listen, we're going offer mass today for Osama Bin Laden, what kind of reaction do you think he might have got? People would be walking out, right? Be letters to the editor, letters to the Archbishop. The media would be there before mass ended. It's radical, but that my friends is the Gospel. And there's a thousand examples of that, a thousand examples of that throughout the four Gospels.

Matthew Kelly

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