“THE DANGEROUS MEMORY OF JESUS CHRIST”
Recently I came across a phrase coined by the German theologian, Johann Baptist Mertz, that made me stop and think. It spoke of “the dangerous memory of Jesus Christ.” Why should remembering Jesus be dangerous, I wondered? Mertz linked it with the Eucharist and with remembering the story of Jesus’ suffering and death. Remembering this confronts us with the terrible realities of misunderstanding, injustice, and innocent suffering. This is true, but I felt there is more to it than that. There have been many, many others who also suffered injustice and died innocently but we don’t consider it dangerous to remember them. Why should it be dangerous to remember Jesus? It must be that there is something different about him that makes it dangerous for us.
The best answer I could come up with consists of two interlocking parts. One is that Christ was resurrected, lives today and is with us in the Spirit. The other is that he comes to us as we remember him with the same authority he manifested during his ministry. He comes to us as the way, the truth, and the life. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount the people were amazed at the authority with which he spoke. And that authority is with him yet.
Consequently, remembering Jesus makes demands on us. We see those demands in the Sermon on the Mount and throughout the Gospels. For example, when we remember Jesus we also remember his command to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us; his command to turn the other cheek; his admonition to lay up treasure in heaven rather than on earth;
· to not judge one another; and later, his call to be his disciple, to take up our cross and follow him.
To remember Jesus is to remember all he stood for and all he called for. That can be dangerous. It can undermine our prejudices, challenge some cherished opinions, and destroy our selfish ambitions. To really remember Jesus may turn our lives around and lead us in a different direction.
But that’s OK. In fact, we might find out it’s a whole lot better than just OK. So let’s try it. Let’s live dangerously. Let’s remember Jesus Christ.