Compassion, mercy, love - that's what comes to my mind when I reflect on the Gospel message, the message from Jesus to the world. And that message came through in some surprising ways. It went against the grain, it surprised people, it was unexpected.
Peter and John were delivering the message, and it surprised and shocked the Sanhedrin. Though they could sense the authenticity of the message, the Sanhedrin couldn't afford to accept it so they told everyone 'let's just pretend this never happened.' And then after Jesus rose from the dead - like he told everyone he would - people didn't believe until they saw.
Are we naturally skeptics? Or is it just too easy to get comfortable filtering things through our past experiences? We go to church, we learn the common and accepted ways of worship, belief, community and so on - and then we filter the rest of the world through that lens of acceptability. It's a very human thing to do.
I remember growing up in St Mary's parish in rural Kansas. For most of my childhood we had the same immigrant Irish priest. We did things pretty much the same year after year. Then when I went away to college I experienced a number of other parishes - city parishes, with modern architecture, a priest in a wheelchair, nuns in full habits, and a very active laity. My childhood experiences with Catholicism had focused my mind on a certain way of being Catholic and experiencing the church. And then it changed, it was very different - and still just as Catholic. Years later I would have the same sort of experience joining a Jesuit parish.
So I think the message - compassion, mercy, love - is bound to disrupt our complacency. It really should be sort of revolutionary in that regard. And we can learn to recognize and accept that message. The discomfort we might find in it can be assuaged by the comfort of knowing from who and where that message is coming from.