Jesus broke the rules so often that the government and even the church wanted Him dead. Where is that energy seen in the Church today? The energy of compassion overriding the rule.
Over and over in scripture we hear that Jesus chose to associate with people whom the rest of his contemporaries found reprehensible. According to the rule of the day, associating with known sinners or the sick or the unclean rendered a person ritually unclean and therefore unfit to participate in communal rituals, like liturgy, common meals or conversations. Fully aware of this rule, Jesus purposely moved among those with whom others would not associate. He went to their homes. He ate with them. He talked with them. He touched them and welcomed them to himself. Compassion always overruled the law. Jesus touched lepers when the law forbade it. He healed people on the Sabbath. Is that spirit alive in the Church today?
His treatment of women was outrageous in his culture. He consistently treated women and men as equals. He violated numerous Old Testament regulations, which specified gender inequality. Here are just a few examples:
- He ignored ritual impurity laws: Jesus cured a woman who suffered from menstrual bleeding for 12 years. In Judean society of the day, it was a major transgression for a man to talk to a woman other than his wife or children.
- He even talked to foreign women: John describes Jesus' conversation with a woman of Samaria. She was doubly ritually unclean since she was both a foreigner and a woman. Again he speaks to a woman in public when men were not allowed to talk to women, except within their own families.
- He taught women students: Jewish tradition at the time was to not allow women to be taught.
- He accepted women in his inner circle. You have to wonder if Jesus were here today would he call Mary Magdalene an apostle.
- Mostly women were present at Jesus' execution, the men had fled from the scene.
- He appeared first to one or more women after his resurrection
So where is that spirit today of confronting rules and traditions that are unkind and unjust?
In my quite prayer times I wonder: How do we show compassion to the young impoverished mother who has more children that she can feed? How would Jesus treat the divorced Catholic. The homosexual? What kind of assistance would he give to those dealing with today's demons - alcohol, drug, and sex addiction? It’s difficult to imagine that Jesus would not treat women as equal to men in every way in the twenty first century. How would Jesus want us to relate to the Islamist?
I don’t have the answers. And my call in life is simply to follow faithfully, and to practice the most radical love I can muster. I know without a doubt that God’s love extends to all people; and His "unconditional" love is what my Church should epitomize.