On a day of good faith, it occurred to me that I am in almost total agreement with Jesus. One might think that a good thing, but I know me.
If I am agreeing with everything that Jesus says, then what I am hearing is probably what I think He meant.
The danger, of course, is that even the Gospel of Matthew becomes the Gospel of Mark.
I have been reading again, but with a biblical chip on my shoulder, itching to pick an exegetical fight. If I can find places where I disagree with Jesus, then I am satisfied that I can distinguish what is authentically His.
In the story of the Prodigal Son, the boy blows his inheritance and decides to return to his father on bended knee.
That’s all well and good, but Dad forgives him even before he says he’s sorry. A little groveling, or talk of restitution, might have been better for the kid than the fatted calf.
There’s the story of the woman taken in adultery. After no one responds to His invitation for the sinless to begin the mandatory sentencing of Leviticus, Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you.” Then He just lets her go without even a firm purpose of amendment, much less any penance.
Speaking of women getting off easy, there’s the Samaritan woman at the well. The woman mentions she has no husband, and Jesus quickly does the math on her: five in all — “and the one you have now is not your husband.” But that’s it. No “Tsk, tsk.” No lecture on marriage. He skips ahead, with no note of judgment, to tell her about the Spirit of God, as if that was more important.
And there’s the Sermon on the Mount. The world of Jesus wasn’t that different than ours. People who were merciful, poor in spirit, or persecuted may have had particular spiritual conditions, but “blessed?” Come on, the meek may eventually inherit the earth, but what kind of shape is it going to be in by then?
“Love your enemies and pray for those who hate you.” Sure, but I may beg the quick repose of their souls. And I’m not always comfortable with Jesus’ version of the Last Judgement, which warns, “Serve the poor or go to hell.”
Enough already. I no longer have to worry about being in total agreement with Jesus.
In my heart, if not my words, I am far from it.