“I’m offended!” It seems that is a common complaint in our day. When did we become such a generation of “fragile little snowflakes” that the slightest challenge sends us into fits of offense and demands for regress?
So, what do you think is behind this age of easy offense? I certainly have my own thoughts, but the most important reason seems to be we have forgotten our true purpose as adults. You see, we humans were made for communion. We were made for relationships. So, if your purpose is communion and relationship, where do you think the evil one will attack? Exactly, in our ability to actually have healthy and whole relationships! He will attempt to get us focused on selfish motivations; assuming the worst in others; suspicious of their motives precisely because we know our own motives are suspect! All in an attempt to stunt our ability to be in relationships that make us more like Him Who knows Himself as Persons in Communion.
Look at our Gospel Lesson this morning in Matthew 13:54-58:
At that time, Jesus came to his own country, and taught the people in their synagogue so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
The story is all too familiar. Hometown boy makes good and comes home to a community that fails to celebrate His success precisely because His success stirs resentment and anger in them! But why?
Well, why does the success of others stir resentment and suspicion in your own heart? OK, I know, this is getting a bit too close to home, but let’s forge ahead as brave adults, shall we?
The people of the Lord’s village took offense at Him and His teachings because they thought they knew Him, but they didn’t. Their assumptions were their enemy. Their false and shallow familiarity meant His wisdom and teaching struck them hard. And His teaching challenged their assumptions about themselves. No matter who you are, that simply isn’t easy or pleasant! But the consequences of their offense was devastating! Their unbelief meant the grace that was abundantly present with them in Him would not penetrate their hard hearts and heal them. Their offense blocked God’s grace and mercy from making them who they were supposed to be! Lord, have mercy!
So, how do we avoid such a fate? How do we keep from being offended by Christ’s wisdom? First, we have to allow our assumptions to be challenged without getting defensive! That takes the humble admission that I need to be taught. I have to be willing to confess my need for Christ before I will ever know Him. Next, instead of being offended by the Lord’s challenging wisdom, understand that this knee-jerk negative reaction is because I am in deep need of a true relationship with God! Finally, determine to not allow my fear and disbelief to be a wall that love can’t penetrate!
Today, does the wisdom of Christ and the teachings of the Faith offend you? Before you cavalierly dismiss the Church because of your offense, take a moment and do an honest self-reflection of your offense. Take the chance of a humble assumption that this wisdom just may be absolutely necessary to break up all those defensive walls around your heart so that true relationships can occur. Don’t let unbelief mean your heart stays sick when there is healing right at your fingertips. Let’s get over our offense.