“I would summarise Jesus’ teaching under two headlines: forgiveness and inclusivity. You go through His teachings. You can see why they killed Him.”
— Fr. Richard Rohr OFM
I’M going to ask you to channel your inner Pharisee for a moment. Sure, we’ve all got one. It’s that self-righteous self that views others through the lens of the law, and ourselves through the lens of grace. Be honest. That inner Pharisee is never too far away. None of us is so full of Jesus that we don’t recognise how quickly we resort to judging and condemning others. Even as we intellectualise our rationale — (‘Oh, I have logic and data on my side that tells me how wrong they are!’) — we only put a more self-deceptive mask on. (That ‘logic’ and that ‘data’ never normally finds others innocent and ourselves guilty.)
Most of those red-letter Bible verses our inner Pharisee hates.
Those red letters highlight everything he can’t do, because to do them requires denial of self, the taking up of one’s cross.
The reason we have to enter our inner Pharisee is it’s the only way to see something so fundamental to our visceral condition.
Unless we see that we are the ones with the log in our own eye we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Until we concede their sin is a speck from our point of view we cannot be healed and will remain utterly broken. Lest we see that, as far as Jesus is concerned, He can only heal us as we allow Him to, we’re forlorn.
Our healing has nothing to do with the person who besmirched us five or fifty years ago. But the bitterness we harbour at their betrayal forever holds us marooned to the mast of misery.
The reason we learn to dislike the real Jesus — even though we ‘love’ Him — is we detest having to soften our hearts before the person we despise has, never understanding it’s more blessed to give than to receive. And even more so when they never soften their heart, forgetting the judgment they may bring upon themselves that has nothing to do with us, and that we’ll never know anything about.
Our relationship with Jesus is manically bipolar when we consider we love Him for all He’s done for us, for the gospels, for who He is, yet when we see Him looking at us with those forgive-that-person-who-has-hurt-you eyes, we hate it. Sure, we don’t want to think we dislike Him! But we can certainly begin to avoid those who bring His discipline our way.
Jesus wants disciples — those who disciplined in bearing the weight of their cross.
Nobody likes to do this. It’s like the apostle Paul. We all have a thorn in the flesh that torments us. It prevents us getting too conceited. The only way we can bear the tremendous burden — the gargantuan weight — of our cross is to surrender the burden of our pride to Jesus by being honest. By drawing to conscious awareness that which would latently reside in our unconscious mind.
Pride causes division, and this is where Jesus also divides. Those who would remain prideful, choosing to remain bitter, or refuse to reconcile, choose to be lukewarm. They say they love Jesus but they show they dislike His teaching. They ought more to say they dislike Him. But, honesty will cause us all to wriggle in at least mild discomfort. None of us are that perfectly surrendered, although the perverting inner Pharisee in us is persuasive in fooling us into thinking we are.
The Jesus of the gospels — the real Jesus — is less interested in doctrine, tradition and protocols, and more interested in honesty that leads to repentance and transformation.