On our image of Jesus

OUR image of Jesus might often be that of a nice and sweet person who does not bring troubles. That’s not how the Gospels portray him.

He was not always lovely and sweet. He didn’t keep his mouth shut when he saw things in disorder. He didn’t always appease people. He gave impassioned speeches against any hypocrisy, scandal, and injustice.

He challenged worldviews and attitudes, such as biases, exclusiveness, arrogance, and self-righteousness. He made the leadership of his time accountable to their responsibility to uplift people’s suffering and establish fairness in society. He spoke against indifference, discrimination, inequality, and greed. Just recall the parables he taught, such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25037), the Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8), and the Parable of the Rich Man (Luke 12: 16-21).

His words shocked his disciples and people like when he said: “Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three: a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law.” (Luke 12: 51-53)

By saying these words, he sent the message that not all people would accept and believe in his teachings. Not all people would show allegiance to him. Even a household will be divided in adhering to the truth of his Gospel.

In these trying times that racism and inequality have surfaced in public and brought attention to the world, Jesus challenges us to speak up as he did. We cannot remain quiet when we see discrimination, brutality, and systemic injustice in our society.

As we celebrate July 4th this weekend, let’s keep our country in prayers. Let peace, justice, and order reign. Let there be a new era in our nation, out of people’s peaceful prophetic protests, so that every person of every color and race receives dignity and respect!

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.

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