Many of us are familiar with these words that Jesus spoke: "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matt 10:39) At the same time, many of us hold on to an image of Jesus as a peace-loving, gentle pacifist - a man who proclaimed peace and love and nothing more.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Rewind a few verses into that passage from Matthew's Gospel:
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother... He who loves father or mother more than me... he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." (Matt 10: 34-38)
Have you seen this in your own life - from as "small" a thing as a family member not wanting to go to Mass one weekend to a familial opinion on contraception or abortion? True faith in Jesus has the power to set son against mother, husband against wife, brother against brother. Ask yourself - who do you side with when the choice is Jesus or family?
Bro. Ignatius Mary, of the Order of the Legion of St. Michael, once wrote that Satan has three secret strategies against us. They are the ideas that:
- All opinions are equal
- We should never judge anyone
- We should never step on anyone's toes
These weapons are used against us not only through strangers but through friends, co-workers, and family. They cut right into our hearts and leave us thinking that Jesus wanted only peace and gentleness on earth.
If it's all about peace on earth, getting along together, and not raising a fuss - then why bother with Calvary? We can all get along better without religion; We will have far less to argue over without God in the way.
If peace on earth is all we need, then Jesus was a chump. He died for nothing.
C. S. Lewis described his Christ-figure Aslan as "not a tame lion", and that description is perfectly accurate. Jesus is not tame. He is not a chump. When you picture the gentle Shepherd, remember what the shepherd does when a wolf comes too near his flock.