Gospel Reflection for Thursday, January 21st, 2021 — Mark 3:7-12.
In my book “Deathly Silence,” one of the things I bring up is that age-old question, “What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)”? I find it interesting that many folks think they know, but don’t really have a clue. So, it’s from that perspective that I’ll often reply to WWJD with “WWJRD,” or what would Jesus really do? No, it’s not always what modern-day redactors would have you believe. Sometimes, as we read yesterday, Jesus actually got angry; other times, such as in today’s Gospel, he simply sought to separate himself from toxic situations.
Understanding WWJRD isn’t a simple proposition, there are multitudes of examples of Jesus being kind and compassionate. However, sprinkled throughout the Gospels are a few instances where spoke harshly and one example in particular, where He lashed out in anger.
So, contrary to pop-culture views, Jesus wasn’t always a soft-spoken pacifist. Yes, it is appropriate that Christians become appropriately angry at times — that’s what Jesus really would do, without the sin factor. (Ephesians 4:26)
But, like today, we find Jesus hoping for an opportunity to skip town. In His compassionate heart, Jesus moves away from the spite and hate in the Jewish temple, back to the Sea of Galilee, where he ministered to multitudes of people who were seeking both His miraculous healing touch and possibly a free lunch.
My Sisters and brothers. It’s important for us to choose our battles. Though our anger may be justified, it’s not always appropriate to fashion a whip and tip over tables. For everything, there is a season, a time, and a place.
As a bishop and minister of Word and Sacrament, I feel a certain obligation to the truth. Part of my self-perceived mission is to speak out against the lies of our age, teaching believers in Christ Jesus to recognize the evil creeping into both church and culture — providing a measured, and Christ-like response. Quite often, I get pushback from well-meaning Christians, thinking I’m simply being unkind, or that in pushing back against liberal hate speech, I’m not being Christlike. But, WWJRD?
Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known.