In every family that I know, there’s at least one person who likes to get a rise out of everybody else. The one who tweaks, who jibes, who calls out your assumptions or always takes the opposite position. (If you don’t know of anyone like that in your family, darling, it’s probably you.)
These people…of course we love them because they’re family, but they are so annoying. Just have some dip and leave us alone, for God’s sake. We didn’t come to Christmas dinner to think!
As much as we like to think about Jesus as the guy who enjoyed company and big dinners, was friends with the rejected and needy, paid attention to women and children, it’s clear he was also one of those people who liked to say things that would get a reaction. He wanted to get us thinking about our behavior. We may not be breaking the letter of the law, murdering people, committing adultery, lying. But are we being forgiving, true to our word, respectful of others?
The great theologian Johann Baptist Metz once wrote that “religion is interruption….We’re so busy and so set in our ways, often the only way God can get through to us is by doing something dramatic, something so radical we can’t help but stop.” It’s the spiritual equivalent of the pie in the face. And it may annoy us to no end; but Jesus rejoices, because even annoyance means he’s found a way in.
—Fr. Jim McDermott, S.J, a Wisconsin province Jesuit, is an accomplished professional screenwriter who lives at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles CA.