Image via WikipediaHope returns at the end of the year in the powerful commemoration of the birth of Jesus. My prayer this Christmas is that all of us, of whatever background (Christian or non-Christian), open the Gospels again and begin to encounter Jesus in the best and most reliable portraits of him that we will ever have in written form: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
We have to return to the Gospels again and again simply because we are always tempted to revise Him according to our own personal agendas, biases, ideologies, sectarian tastes, and cultural, sociological, theological, and liturgical quirks. He is beyond all of that "small stuff."
You have heard that familiarity breeds contempt. The problem for most of us Christians is not contempt but rather that familiarity breeds a self-interested, unconscious revisionism of Jesus to make him match our personal tastes--even, at times, our political tastes. We cannot box Him into our little, neat boxes. In fact, he was executed precisely by those frustrated with their inability to box Him into their preferred categories. It does not make sense to crucify Him again in our own lives.