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Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Real Jesus is more than warm & fuzzy

Let's try to be shocked again by the Gospel.  So often we get too comfortable with this good news.  But Jesus' coming is more than just a warm & fuzzy experience.  It is a revolution and we want to be on His side of the battle.  It has shocked people since the beginning of time.  We need to allow it to do the same to us.

Advent looks in two directions at the same time.  It starts at the end, looking at Jesus' coming at the end of time.  It ends with His first coming, his birth in Bethlehem.
Today St. Peter reminds us again of that second coming as a like a thief.  I think another good example for us is a car accident or a physical injury, like when I fell over my bike as a kid and tore open my chin and needed 13 stitches.  These things are never easy or comfortable or a welcome surprise.  We are never prepared.  Like that, we are never prepared for God crashing into our lives: which is exactly why the characters of the Old Testament are afraid when they see an angel or hear God's voice.

Another reason is because God comes to turn our world upside down, which really turns out to be right-side-up.  Mark also gets at this: Jesus' first coming is a revolution of the current state of things.  Mark is most likely writing St. Peter's testimony from the city of Rome itself, the belly of the beast so to speak, since Rome controlled almost everything touching the Mediterranean at that time.  And Mark begins this way: the Gospel (euangelion, Good News) of Jesus Christ, Son of God.  For Romans, Gospel meant a proclamation of military victory.  So Mark says Jesus, who is also Christ (messiah), has won a great military victory by his cross and resurrection.  Then he calls Jesus the Son of God, which might make us yawn, but for Romans who worshiped the emperor as a son of a god, a descendant of divine lineage, it would have certainly caught their attention.  They would have said, "wait, are you saying this Jesus is the real Caesar, the real king of the universe as we know it?"  Yes, says Mark, now listen to how he won that victory.  And then he starts the story that more and more, shocks his audience.

John the Baptist made people of his time quite uncomfortable.  He shocked them.  But sometimes it's a good thing when we are made uncomfortable.  For example, here's what my mom did to me when I was a baby.  She gets a ring at the doorbell and there's a man asking her "is this your child? I found him out in the middle of the road."  Now we're not talking some neighborhood road, we are talking a road of constant, but light, traffic.  Well my mom was terrified, embarrassed, and grateful and angry all at the same time.  So  guess what she did?  She spanked me to kingdom come saying "don't ever do that again!"  Now, was that comfortable for me?  Obviously not, otherwise I wouldn't have blocked it from my memory.  But was it good for me?  Yah I think so, since maybe the next driver wouldn't have been so alert and cautious.  So, discomfort can be good when we are in danger.  And that's what the Baptizer is doing for us: telling us we are spiritually in danger, demanding we repent and seek forgiveness for our sins.
So we have to be honest about our own sinfulness.  If we don't acknowledge we need a savior, Jesus' coming isn't that big of a deal is it?  Nope.
So, I hope this kind of shocks you: you are spiritually in danger without Jesus.  You don't know when the thief is coming to take back to Himself everything that you think is yours.  And the Baptist says this: repent and seek forgiveness.  To do this, I give one piece of advice: make a good Confession during Advent.  Either come a week from Tuesday or come to one of the times Fr. Bill and I will be available.  Don't get comfortable with the warm & fuzzy Jesus.  He's much more than that.  He's a Savior.  This Advent, let Him save you and heal you once again.

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