Perhaps the most memorable character of Star Wars is Master Yoda. Yet how well do we know him? It is only in Episode II: Attack of the Clones that we discover that Yoda is not merely a frail wise man with invisible powers who preaches non-violence: we discover that he is also a master warrior with the lightsaber.
Exactly the same thing happens today. Any limited ideas we had of Jesus as a nice wise person disappear in the face of Jesus’ radicality – for love, and for the truth, happy to die for both: the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again. This is the test of the Old Testament today: if the virtuous man is God’ son, God will take his part and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies. Jesus was willing to die for love and the truth: and he expects his followers to be willing to do the same. So a question he asks us: are you?
We also see that Jesus ‘message’ is not limited to cuddling the butterflies. Jesus challenges people’s way of life. He is not okay with the way people live, and he tells us to change. For very good reason:- because some of these things we like hurt those he loves, hurts ourselves, and hurts society; and because, as He well knows, we ourselves secretly regret our attachment to not so good things. Stealing, or lying, or killing, or sex outside marriage makes us miserable and creates problems. That’s the whole point of the Gospel. But Father, isn’t the point of the Gospel for us to love everyone? Yes. But that means loving God with all of my heart, mind and strength. It also means spending my life serving others: as he says If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all. There is no other way of love.
Obviously this radical call makes us uncomfortable. So it should. It is a sign that our heart is still open, and that it is being pierced by the beauty, nobility and goodness of who we truly are – and the fact that we are living that badly. At this point we can be tempted to fear this, and shut out the gospel. Do not be afraid! It is no problem. Each gap we discover is another we can present to God for healing.
But here we see why it is dangerous when a society begins basing itself on avoiding discomfort, rather than on the truth: – society is no longer built on truth, and so no longer built on reality; people become more afraid of speaking out about evil – and so evildoing grows; and when people do speak out, the mob tries to take their freedom of speech, freedom of movement or even their life. As the wise first reading points out today, it encourages some to grow in their pride and to thirst for destruction: Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life, reproaches us for our breaches of the law and accuses us of playing false to our upbringing. And this is why the co-eternal Son of God got murdered by his brothers and sisters: because he wouldn’t shut up, he wouldn’t stop telling the truth, he wouldn’t stop being the Light of the World.
So let us rechoose again to be people who are free: to rechoose to base ourselves in the love of God for us – which nothing can ever change – and to courageously always speak the truth about what is happening in the world.