progress of many of our other relationships. These may not be so dramatic as ďin loveĒ love, but the steps are pretty much the same. We have heard about a person. We meet the person. We start to like the person. Then, our own expectations of who and what that person should be begin to take over. We imagine the person to be something the person is not and or cannot be. Initial good feeling turns into bad feeling and we reject the person. We might even try to destroy that personís reputation among others. What we are really doing, in that case, is trying to convince others that these figments of our own imagination are not true and it is the fault of the person we did the imagining on. It is their fault they are not the person we imagined them to be. When we do that enough, to enough people and about enough people, we can get pretty miserable, disillusioned about all others, and become quite negative in both our speech about and actions toward others. Jesus simply did not meet, indeed refused to meet, the expectations of his own people and they rejected him, even taking to violence to express their anger at his failure to meet their demands.
In his teaching about love Jesus makes a crucial distinction between acceptance and approval. He tells us that God always accepts us, but does not always approve of our behavior. He tells us that we must reflect this way of Godís loving in the way we love everyone. We need not approve of everything other people do in order to accept them as they are, in order to love them. Jesus tells us that we can and indeed should disapprove of immoral behavior, but that a person is more than their faults, even their sins. Jesus got people to change their behavior not by shaming them, but by loving them, by accepting them as they are, where they are. Jesus accepted the prostitute Mary Magdalene, though he disapproved of her behavior. He accepted her in her being, while disapproving of her doing. When we reject a personís being, when we decide that a person has no right to be, we feel justified in killing that person, either physically or verbally or emotionally. We destroy or try to destroy that personís life, or that groupís life. Isnít that the whole basis for ethnic cleansing, for gay bashing, for racial enmity, for abortion? Donít stronger humans set themselves up as the judges of who is allowed to live, or prosper, or just be?
When Jesusí own townsfolk received him back home, he was like the hometown boy who made good. Externally at first it looked like they were accepting him. Then, later, it became clear that that acceptance was contingent upon approval. Now, Jesus did not do anything wrong. He merely spoke. They did not approve of what he said. He said that God loved all people, even Gentiles. He quoted instances from Scripture to prove his contention. That made them contentious and angry. They took back their initial acceptance, even trying to kill him. What happened to Jesus in this story telescopes the entire history