Christ comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.
It has been a long-held opinion of mine that effective preaching has a two-fold purpose: 1) To comfort the afflicted, and 2) To afflict the comfortable. It seems that this week, Jesus is doing more of the latter. Our Lord is clear that he requires our absolute devotion. He is not interested in those who would only follow him halfway. As we read in the book of Revelation, Jesus finds lukewarm-ness nauseating: “Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:16). If that verse does not make us uncomfortable, then nothing will. And thank God for it.
Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in his work Spe Salvi that we are not called to comfort, we are called to something better, greatness. “Man was created for greatness—for God himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched…” Sometimes stretching isn’t comfortable. But moving out of our comfort zones enables God to do amazing things. When we step out, stereotypes are shattered, worldviews are inverted, and labels are destroyed. Today–right now, Jesus is calling you and me to step out, to leave behind what makes us comfortable and begin the journey of discipleship. This means we no longer just surround ourselves with people and things that make us feel good about ourselves, but rather, that we step out with a sense of adventure into the unknown. As we see from the bible, when disciples leave behind comfort in favor of following Jesus, they begin to do some crazy and amazing things like: Walk on the water (Mt. 14:29); Speak in a way that everyone understands, regardless of language (Acts 2:7-12); Heal the lame (Acts 3:6); and even raise the dead (Acts 20:10). God wants to do amazing things with us, he wants to end oppression, racial bigotry, feed the poor, educate the uneducated, love those who have been marginalized, and proclaim his Good News of salvation. All of this begins with us rejecting what makes us comfortable.