The gospel reading this morning is the one where the people attack Jesus saying he is casting out demons by the power of the devil.
He goes on to expose the ludicrous irrationality of the accusation by pointing out that the devil doesn’t cast out his own, and if he is doing exorcisms by the power of the devil, then perhaps they are doing the same.
What Jesus exposes here is the wild eyed irrationality of those who are his enemies. He makes it quite clear, those who are not for him are against him. You pays your money and you makes your choice.
Choose you this day whom you will serve: Jesus Christ, King of King and Lord of Lords, the Incarnate Son of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father by whom all things were made….or something else.
As I held up the host and chalice and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” it hit me hard that what we do–what everyone does –even those who profess to be his disciples–what we do is change Jesus into something else.
We will have almost any other Jesus but the Jesus of the Nicene Creed.
The list of the other Jesus-idols is long and gets longer every day. We want a St Francis Jesus…all about loving cuddly animals and being a hippy. We want a teacher or a preacher or a prophet. We want a social justice warrior or a Bible teacher. We want a guru, a spiritual master, a mystic and a wonder worker. We want a radical revolutionary or pacifist. We want an eco-warrior, a friend of children, a moral guide, a self help master, an enlightened soul or a poor wandering mystic. We want a gentle gay man and a celibate soldier. We want a hermit and a person who is gregarious and good. We want a sugar daddy, a best friend, a buddy and an avenging angel.
We want anything…anything other than Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God and Son of Mary.
Why is the church leadership agonizing over what young people want? Because they can’t figure out which of these Jesus idols is the best one to put in the showroom. Why are Catholics confused about morality, about doctrine and about the very core of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Because there are too many Jesus-idols in the church and they don’t know which one is the right one. Why are we confused about mission and unsure just what to do next? For the same reason: we don’t know which Jesus-idol to follow. Why is the church divided and why are we warring amongst ourselves? Because we’re busy forcing our own Jesus-idol on everybody else. Why do Catholics agonize over being relevant? Because they know deep down that all the Jesus idols are irrelevant and deeply blasphemous.
As I held up the chalice and paten I realized that this timeless action is forever relevant. It is ancient but it is not old fashioned. The liturgy is timeless and out of time yet always timely for there we meet the risen one, the incarnate Lord, and he is the only one I will ever serve.
The others are hollow idols of wood and painted plaster.
They should be broken and burned.
Der Gute Hirte oder Geisselung Jesu Christi? The Good Shepard or Scourged Jesus Christ? One image adorns Sunday School walls and brings us warmth, the other we save until we are older and makes us uncomfortable. Thought provoking how many Christian Denominations totally avoid the second.
As I read your responses to the question of what we change Jesus into, I kept thinking, yes, but…
He is not just this or that, or lol those things, rather He is God Who became man.
Yes, burn all the rest of the idols!