Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus reproaches the unrepentant towns where he performed most of his mighty deeds. The idea of Jesus as judge is one with which we are distinctly uncomfortable, yet even the most cursory reading of the New Testament reveals its unavoidability. Indeed, it has been said that in front of every church there ought to be a statue of the compassionate Jesus and a statue of Christ in full flight of fury, since both are indisputably present in the Gospel stories.
The point is that when God’s own ordo appears in the world, he necessarily judges the disorder that surrounds him. To judge, in the biblical sense of the term, means to bring into the light, to throw into sharp relief. When good and evil are confused or intermingled, divine judgment separates them, clarifying the issue.
By his very nature, in his every word and gesture, in the very way that he stood, Jesus, God’s Word, was a judge. He was the light of the world, harshly exposing that which would prefer to remain in the dark; he was the unadulterated criterion, the truth in the presence of which falsity necessarily appeared for what it was.