If you are a Harry Potter fan, you will recognize
these words of Dumbledore:
“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time
when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”
The words of Jesus in the Gospel hit us like bucket of icy water.
He brings division. People will be set against each other.
This is nothing like how so many people imagine Jesus,
giving everyone a hug and a peace sign.
It is true that Jesus opens his arms to anyone. He forgives every sin.
That portrait is accurate. But it is not the entire truth.
Remember Jesus also made a whip out of cords
and drove people out of his Father’s temple.
The thing people miss about that episode is this:
If that’s how Jesus reacts to impurity in a physical building,
that he predicted would be destroyed…
Then, how do you suppose he reacts to impurity
in the temple of our lives, the temple of God that you and I are?
The Cross of Jesus Christ represents ultimate mercy,
but at the very same time, it represents the ultimate choice.
The Cross looms ahead of each of us, in the middle of the path.
You and I must go to one side or the other,
with the sheep or the goats.
With the criminal who in an instant of faith became a saint,
or the thief who reviles Jesus in despair.
One of my favorite books is by C.S. Lewis, called The Silver Chair;
it is part of his “Chronicles of Narnia” series.
At the climactic moment, the evil queen
is trying to cast a spell over our heroes.
As she plays soothing music, she tells them
there’s nothing to fight about, there’s no problem,
just relax, go to sleep, go to sleep.
And there are voices in our culture doing the exact same thing.
There isn’t any actual truth, they say, it’s all just our own preferences.
The only real mortal sin is to say things that are unpleasant,
that might “trigger” someone.
Calm down, just do as you please, choose a person truth…
Go to sleep, go to sleep…
Now picture Jeremiah, or any of the saints.
Think of Maximilian Kolbe, who gave his life in witness today:
how do you suppose they react?
They don’t go to sleep. They lift up Jesus Christ!
The purpose is not to offend, to pick a fight.
The crucifix is not a weapon; it is a revelation; and an invitation.
But sooner or later, either we speak what others crave to hear;
Or else, what they need to hear. What is easy; or what is right.