Sunday, March 8, 2015

Reflection for Sunday, March 8, 2015

Third Sunday of Lent
EX 20: 1-17
PS 19: 8, 9, 10, 11
1 Cor 1: 22-25
JN 2: 13-25

The Gospel today presents a side of Jesus that isn’t very attractive.  It stands in stark contrast to the popular and familiar view of Jesus' character.  Isn’t Jesus supposed to be gentle and soft-spoken?  Didn’t he preach turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, and praying for those who persecute you? But here, Jesus appears with his sleeves rolled up, ready for a fight. His aggressive behavior doesn't show him to be the loving teacher, healer, and shepherd whom we find attractive. 

It’s true, Jesus was a nice guy, but we can also conveniently forget that he had an edge.  During his public ministry, he is constantly disrupting things and calling into question the status quo. Remember the time he entered a house to eat with some Pharisees but refused to wash before dinner? Before the food was even served, Jesus called his hosts hypocrites and pronounced woe upon them. We belong to one disruptive Lord—bent on overturning anything that hinders us from appropriate devotion and service to God and to one another. Jesus continues to stir the pot to make us clean, whole, and faithful. 

Dietrich Bonheoffer, a theologian and martyr during WWII, wrote The Cost of Discipleship in which he says that Christians today are living by cheap grace instead of costly grace. Cheap grace is the attempt to lower standards of the gospel by ignoring cost of the cross and down-playing the need for repentance and change. It embraces an easy discipleship that requires little commitment. It assumes you can live in God's sanctuary, where Jesus fulfills the law, but you can remain independent of the commands and desires of Jesus.  When Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, he said, "Go now and leave your life of sin." His grace was freely given, but it included an expectation that her life would radically change. Costly grace means we must change our habits, thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and relationships according to the will of Jesus. Nothing can remain the same because we are no longer the same.

During this season of Lent, will we let ourselves be disrupted?

Fr. John Vowells, S.J. is the Campus Minister for the School of Law.

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