31 March 2013

Easter Gospel Reflection - Easter Sunday - 30 March 2013


Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.” Peter and the other disciple left to go to the tomb. They were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb. Bending down to take a look, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he didn’t go in. Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. He also saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place. Then the other disciple, the one who arrived at the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.

Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.

Have you ever been to a movie that was just so packed full of little things here and there that you missed most of it the first time around? It’s not until the third or fourth time do you see all of the little hints along the way pointing to the big finale.

Or, better yet, for my fellow Whovians out there, have you ever noticed the little hints in a Doctor Who episode that are carried throughout an entire season that culminate in a huge final season episode that you weren’t expecting? It’s not until you watch the season over again that you pick up on them. I remember watching The Eleventh Hour for the third or fourth time and could hear the sound that the Silence makes and then picking up on that sound throughout all of season 5. It was right there in front my face the entire time and I missed it.

John’s story of the resurrection is just like that. It’s so full of little hints that it’s hard to take it all in. But at the same time, it’s also one of those stories that a lot of us have heard so often that we miss those subtleties.

Right at the beginning, John drops a huge hint. He says that Mary of Magdala came to the tomb “on the first day” of the week. This is such an important point that he states it again in verse 19, just outside the lectionary reading. What does this mean?

As we’ve noted before in John’s telling of the story of Jesus, he has been pointing to something. Something BIG. And that something big is New Creation.

In the daily reading for this morning, the passage is John 1.1-18. There, John starts off by stating, “In the beginning...” Any first century Jew would have automatically heard Genesis 1.1, “In the beginning...” John is writing a new creation story. He puts down “signs” - the wedding at Cana, the feeding of the multitude, etc. - pointing us further down the path, pointing to something else. His whole gospel is pointing to this event, the resurrection of Jesus and the beginning of the New Creation.

And just to make sure we get it, John states that when Mary of Magdala sees Jesus, she mistakes him for the gardener (verse 15). Of course. Whom else would he be? As St. Paul notes, the first gardener, Adam, was an example of Christ. So, here, at the dawn of the first day of the New Creation, we see the new humanity, the truly Human One, as a gardener.

All throughout Jesus’ ministry, he was proclaiming in action and word that G_d’s Realm was coming “on earth as it is in heaven.” That G_d’s great promise of returning to Israel, to the world, bringing justice and peace was finally “at hand.” Everyone knew that when G_d finally returned, a New Creation would be born. It’s there in Isaiah. It’s there in Jeremiah. But what people weren’t expecting was that it would take place in the middle of history. But that’s just what Jesus taught. Think about his stories about G_d’s Realm - the seed planted, the yeast in the dough - they all point to G_d doing something within the existing world. John is telling us, on Easter morning, G_d’s New Creation was birthed.

And that birthing is a point that most of us miss. When Jesus was raised from the dead, and New Creation was born, all of the falseness of the world wasn’t instantly gone. That was never the plan. The plan was to rescue humanity, as many people as possible, now, in this life, and then G_d works through them to bring healing, mercy, forgiveness, love, and yes, a new life - true life, real life - to the rest of creation.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+. LC

~~~
Mahina’s note: After we finished Eucharist, Mahina and I were walking to dinner. “Do you know why the face covering was in a different place?” she asked me.

“I suppose to show that someone didn’t steal the body.”

“In a way. Forensically speaking, it’s proof to Jesus’ resurrection.”

“How so?” I asked puzzled (Mahina was a forensic nurse for a while.)

“Well, the first thing Jesus would have done when we rose from the dead would have been to take of the face covering and lay it aside. Then, he would have taken off the grave clothes later. The fact that the face covering was in a different location proves that he was really raised from the dead. Someone stealing the body would have put all of the clothing in the same spot.”

30 March 2013

Lenten Daily Gospel Reflection - Holy Saturday - 30 March 2013


That evening a man named Joseph came. He was a rich man from Arimathea who had become a disciple of Jesus. He came to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate gave him permission to take it. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had carved out of the rock. After he rolled a large stone at the door of the tomb, he went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting in front of the tomb.

The next day, which was the day after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate. They said, “Sir, we remember that while that deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will arise.’ Therefore, order the grave to be sealed until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people, ‘He’s been raised from the dead.’ This last deception will be worse than the first.”

Pilate replied, “You have soldiers for guard duty. Go and make it as secure as you know how.” Then they went and secured the tomb by sealing the stone and posting the guard.

~~~

After this Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate if he could take away the body of Jesus. Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one because he feared the Jewish authorities. Pilate gave him permission, so he came and took the body away. Nicodemus, the one who at first had come to Jesus at night, was there too. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloe, nearly seventy-five pounds in all. Following Jewish burial customs, they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the spices, in linen cloths. There was a garden in the place where Jesus was crucified, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish Preparation Day and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus in it.


There isn’t a Gospel reading for the Daily Prayer today, so these passages come from the Holy Saturday service. Either passage could be read. I posted them both because they tell different parts of the story (I could have added Mark’s and Luke’s accounts, too, but, this was enough).

From these accounts we see that at least four people took Jesus down from the cross and placed him in a tomb - Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Mary of Magdala, and Mary, the mother of Joses. In John’s telling of the story, Nicodemus is the one who brought the burial spices. The Synoptics tells us the women brought the burial spices the following day.

Also, Matthew is the only one who mentions the story about the conversation between the Chief Priest, the Pharisees, and Pilate; along with the posting of the guard. Which I find odd. John’s the one who always gets the bad wrap with his comments and (supposed) snide remarks about the Jewish Leadership.

One thing is certain, though - they all tell the same story. They’re all saying that Jesus actually died. That his body was removed from the cross, wrapped in linens, and placed in a new, unused grave. Then the entrance was shut. Matthew tells us that the entrance was also sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers. Their point is quite clear -

Jesus was really dead and buried, and no one was getting to the body.

All of their hopes and dreams dashed to bits. The revolution was squashed before it even began. That’s what the Romans did to revolutionaries - they were all crucified. They were used as examples to anyone else who got the notion to overthrow Rome. Their dreams of Jesus being the Messiah were obviously a mistake. While only a handful took care of his body, the rest were hiding away afraid they would be next. They really didn’t know what was going to happen.

So, they, like us, just sat there waiting...



~~~
In the Love of the three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

29 March 2013

Lenten Gospel Lesson - Great and Holy Friday - 29 March 2013


Today’s passage is taken from the liturgical service for Great and Holy Friday. There’s no reflection. Just meditate on the story. ~ Br. Jack+, LC

After he said these things, Jesus went out with his disciples and crossed over to the other side of the Kidron Valley. He and his disciples entered a garden there. Judas, his betrayer, also knew the place because Jesus often gathered there with his disciples. Judas brought a company of soldiers and some guards from the chief priests and Pharisees. They came there carrying lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus knew everything that was to happen to him, so he went out and asked, “Who are you looking for?”

They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.”

He said to them, “I Am.” (Judas, his betrayer, was standing with them.) When he said, “I Am,” they shrank back and fell to the ground. He asked them again, “Who are you looking for?”

They said, “Jesus the Nazarene.”

Jesus answered, “I told you, ‘I Am.’ If you are looking for me, then let these people go.” This was so that the word he had spoken might be fulfilled: “I didn’t lose anyone of those whom you gave me.”

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword away! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given me?” Then the company of soldiers, the commander, and the guards from the Jewish leaders took Jesus into custody. They bound him and led him first to Annas. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. (Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was better for one person to die for the people.)

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Because this other disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. However, Peter stood outside near the gate. Then the other disciple (the one known to the high priest) came out and spoke to the woman stationed at the gate, and she brought Peter in. The servant woman stationed at the gate asked Peter, “Aren’t you one of this man’s disciples?”

“I’m not,” he replied. The servants and the guards had made a fire because it was cold. They were standing around it, warming themselves. Peter joined them there, standing by the fire and warming himself.

Meanwhile, the chief priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, “I’ve spoken openly to the world. I’ve always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews gather. I’ve said nothing in private. Why ask me? Ask those who heard what I told them. They know what I said.”

After Jesus spoke, one of the guards standing there slapped Jesus in the face. “Is that how you would answer the high priest?” he asked.

Jesus replied, “If I speak wrongly, testify about what was wrong. But if I speak correctly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him, bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.

Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing with the guards, warming himself. They asked, “Aren’t you one of his disciples?”

Peter denied it, saying, “I’m not.”

A servant of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said to him, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” Peter denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.

The Jewish leaders led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s palace. It was early in the morning. So that they could eat the Passover, the Jewish leaders wouldn’t enter the palace; entering the palace would have made them ritually impure.

So Pilate went out to them and asked, “What charge do you bring against this man?”

They answered, “If he had done nothing wrong, we wouldn’t have handed him over to you.”

Pilate responded, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your Law.”

The Jewish leaders replied, “The Law doesn’t allow us to kill anyone.” (This was so that Jesus’ word might be fulfilled when he indicated how he was going to die.)

Pilate went back into the palace. He summoned Jesus and asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others spoken to you about me?”

Pilate responded, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your nation and its chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”

Jesus replied, “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested by the Jewish leaders. My kingdom isn’t from here.”

“So you are a king?” Pilate said.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked.

After Pilate said this, he returned to the Jewish leaders and said, “I find no grounds for any charge against him. You have a custom that I release one prisoner for you at Passover. Do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?”

They shouted, “Not this man! Give us Barabbas!” (Barabbas was an outlaw.)

Then Pilate had Jesus taken and whipped. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple robe.  Over and over they went up to him and said, “Greetings, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

Pilate came out of the palace again and said to the Jewish leaders, “Look! I’m bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no grounds for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here’s the man.”

When the chief priests and their deputies saw him, they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify!”

Pilate told them, “You take him and crucify him. I don’t find any grounds for a charge against him.”

The Jewish leaders replied, “We have a Law, and according to this Law he ought to die because he made himself out to be God’s Son.”

When Pilate heard this word, he was even more afraid. He went back into the residence and spoke to Jesus, “Where are you from?” Jesus didn’t answer. So Pilate said, “You won’t speak to me? Don’t you know that I have authority to release you and also to crucify you?”

Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me if it had not been given to you from above. That’s why the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” From that moment on, Pilate wanted to release Jesus.

However, the Jewish leaders cried out, saying, “If you release this man, you aren’t a friend of the emperor! Anyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes the emperor!”

When Pilate heard these words, he led Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench at the place called Stone Pavement (in Aramaic, Gabbatha). It was about noon on the Preparation Day for the Passover. Pilate said to the Jewish leaders, “Here’s your king.”

The Jewish leaders cried out, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

Pilate responded, “What? Do you want me to crucify your king?”

“We have no king except the emperor,” the chief priests answered. Then Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.

The soldiers took Jesus prisoner. Carrying his cross by himself, he went out to a place called Skull Place (in Aramaic, Golgotha). That’s where they crucified him—and two others with him, one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a public notice written and posted on the cross. It read “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city and it was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Therefore, the Jewish chief priests complained to Pilate, “Don’t write, ‘The king of the Jews’ but ‘This man said, “I am the king of the Jews.”’”

Pilate answered, “What I’ve written, I’ve written.”

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and his sandals, and divided them into four shares, one for each soldier. His shirt was seamless, woven as one piece from the top to the bottom. They said to each other, “Let’s not tear it. Let’s cast lots to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill the scripture,

They divided my clothes among themselves,
   and they cast lots for my clothing.

That’s what the soldiers did.

Jesus’ mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood near the cross. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

After this, knowing that everything was already completed, in order to fulfill the scripture, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was nearby, so the soldiers soaked a sponge in it, placed it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed.” Bowing his head, he gave up his life.

It was the Preparation Day and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies to remain on the cross on the Sabbath, especially since that Sabbath was an important day. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of those crucified broken and the bodies taken down. Therefore, the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men who were crucified with Jesus. When they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead so they didn’t break his legs. However, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. The one who saw this has testified, and his testimony is true. He knows that he speaks the truth, and he has testified so that you also can believe. These things happened to fulfill the scripture, They won’t break any of his bones. And another scripture says, They will look at him whom they have pierced.

28 March 2013

Lenten Daily Gospel Reflection - Maundy Thursday - 28 March 2013

When Jesus finished saying these things, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that the Son can glorify you. You gave him authority over everyone so that he could give [aiōnion] life to everyone you gave him. This is [aiōnios] life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent. I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I shared with you before the world was created.

“I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from this world. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. This is because I gave them the words that you gave me, and they received them. They truly understood that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.
“I’m praying for them. I’m not praying for the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours. Everything that is mine is yours and everything that is yours is mine; I have been glorified in them. I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world, even as I’m coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them in your name, the name you gave me, that they will be one just as we are one. When I was with them, I watched over them in your name, the name you gave to me, and I kept them safe. None of them were lost, except the one who was destined for destruction, so that scripture would be fulfilled. Now I’m coming to you and I say these things while I’m in the world so that they can share completely in my joy. I gave your word to them and the world hated them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. I’m not asking that you take them out of this world but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. I made myself holy on their behalf so that they also would be made holy in the truth.

“I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you have loved them just as you loved me.

“Father, I want those you gave me to be with me where I am. Then they can see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, even the world didn’t know you, but I’ve known you, and these believers know that you sent me. I’ve made your name known to them and will continue to make it known so that your love for me will be in them, and I myself will be in them.”

Maundy Thursday. The Gospel reading for tonight will undoubtedly be about Jesus washing the disciples feet (either John 13:1-15, or Luke 22:14-30). Which is strange because the word maundy is based on the Latin word mandatum and means “commandment.” The washing of the disciple’s feet was an example, Jesus said, not a commandment. The word mandatum comes from the Latin translation of the Bible and is taken from Jesus’ words in John 13.34, “I give you a new commandment (mandatum): Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.” The commandment, the mandatum, isn’t “wash each other’s feet.” The commandment is, “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.” That’s the mandatum, the commandment - to love others as Christ loves.

So, what does any of that have to do with today’s Gospel lesson? Quite a lot, actually. This passage is often referred to as the “High Priestly Prayer.” It could just as easily be called the “Prayer for Love and Unity” (and, perhaps, those two are the same thing). Over and over again, Christ longs for the Father-Mother’s love to be with his followers - in his followers - just as it has been with and in Jesus himself.

And then, the most astounding part of all. Jesus prays that his followers would be one, just like Jesus is one with the Father-Mother. But he doesn’t stop there. He extends that unity beyond our comprehension. He longs for a unity of the Creator and creation. G_d the Father-Mother is in Christ and Christ is in the Father-Mother. They’re One in a deep mystery. At the same time, Jesus asks to be in his followers and they in him. Now, if G_d is within Jesus, that is, if G_d is so unified with Jesus that they are the same being, and Christ is praying for the same thing for his followers - then he is praying that we will be one with G_d the way he is one with G_d.

Whoa.

In Eastern Orthodox theology this is called theosis. That is, the transforming process of attaining likeness or union with G_d. Humanity is not only to experience biological life but aiōnion Life, the Life of the ages, the Life of G_d. St. Peter wrote, “Through [Jesus’] honor and glory he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, that [we] may share the divine nature and escape from the world’s immorality that sinful craving produces.”

This is similar to sanctification in Western theology. One of the big differences between the two, however, is sanctification is about becoming holy; whereas theosis is about becoming “god.” St. Athanasius said, “The Son of God became man, that we might become god” (note the small “g”). This doesn’t mean that people become G_d in an ontological sense - the creature can’t become the Creator - but we can “share the divine nature.” St. Paul put it this way, “We are being transformed into that same image,” i.e., the image of Christ. Note that, for Paul, this is a present and ongoing transformation. We don’t get it all at once. Certainly, there is a beginning, but the transformation process takes the entire life (at least).

Furthermore, as we noted yesterday, I don’t believe this is limited to just humanity. I believe theosis is for all creation. Again, St. Paul wrote:

The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice - it was the choice of the one who subjected it - but in the hope that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now.

Jesus prayer is that one day all creation will become one. That is, the two halves of G_d’s “supremely good” creation - our world’s realm and G_d’s Realm - would once more be reunited into one whole. St. John paints that very picture:

I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “All is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will freely give water from the life-giving spring. Those who emerge victorious will inherit these things. I will be their God, and they will be my sons and daughters.

That’s where creation is heading. And it’s in direct answer to Jesus’ prayer and his faithful action of going to the cross. The Love and Unity of G_d for the whole creation.

And what’s really beautiful is that there are sages and scientists and prophets and wisdom teachers and ordinary people all over the world saying the same thing - we are all one. And, personally, I believe this is happening because of the cross and resurrection. Each and every moment of every day, each time we put ourselves aside and serve others, we are one step closer to making that future, that dream of G_d, that prayer of Jesus, a reality.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

27 March 2013

Lenten Daily Gospel Reflection - Holy Wednesday - 27 March 2013


“Now I am deeply troubled. What should I say? ‘Father, save me from this time’? No, for this is the reason I have come to this time. Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard and said, “It’s thunder.” Others said, “An angel spoke to him.”

Jesus replied, “This voice wasn’t for my benefit but for yours. Now is the time for judgment of this world. Now this world’s ruler will be thrown out. When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” (He said this to show how he was going to die.)

The crowd responded, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Human One must be lifted up? Who is this Human One?”

Jesus replied, “The light is with you for only a little while. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness don’t know where they are going. As long as you have the light, believe in the light so that you might become people whose lives are determined by the light.” After Jesus said these things, he went away and hid from them.

“When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” Let’s let that sink in for a moment. The only qualifier for the drawing of “everyone” is Christ being “lifted up from the earth.” That’s it. Period. The enthronement of Jesus is the game changer for everyone.

“Well, for those that believe.”

That’s not what he said. In fact, the Greek word is “pas” and means, “all, every.” There’s not a qualifier for that either. We’ve changed it to refer to people. The old King James Version has it this way, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” The word “men” in italics means that the word “men” was not in the Greek but was added by the translators to try and make the verse clearer.

Today, we extend that even further. The reason, we deduce, is that Jesus wasn’t just referring to the males of the human race, but to females as well. And rightly so.

But what happens when we remove the qualifier altogether? That really changes things, doesn’t it. Jesus said that he would “draw all to me.” All what?

Everything.

All things.

The entire cosmos.

And that’s just what we read in other parts of the New Testament. St. Paul wrote, “This is what [G_d] planned for the climax of all times: to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth.”

And in another place he wrote,  “[G_d] reconciled all things to [G_dself] through [Jesus] - whether things on earth or in the heavens. [G_d] brought peace through the blood of [the] cross [of Christ].”

Again, the word “things” was added to help us understand the text. But I submit that it actually reduces the impact of the text and G_d’s plan.

The plan is to reconcile all. That’s the plan. That’s why Jesus can’t turn back or ask G_d to rescue him from the cross. The entire cosmos is waiting for salvation. Jesus knows that. Therefore, with grim determination, and, if we’re honest, some (!) reservation about what’s coming. Yet he knows the importance of it. He knows what it means for Israel. For the Gentiles. For everyone. For all creation. G_d will use his death, somehow, to rescue all.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

26 March 2013

Lenten Daily Gospel Reading - Holy Tuesday - 26 March 2013

Some Greeks were among those who had come up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and made a request: “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip told Andrew, and Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Human One to be glorified. I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their lives will lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them forever. Whoever serves me must follow me. Wherever I am, there my servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves me.

Do you remember playing the children’s game, “Follow the Leader”? One child would be selected to be the leader and the rest of us would follow her and do what she did. If she jumped over a puddle, we jumped over it, too. If she climbed up the slide and slid down, we did the same thing. Sometimes, the leader would get real tricky, the path got more difficult as did the obstacles.

In the passage today, Jesus is the leader and if we’re going to play, “Follow the Leader,” it’s going to cost us.

A lot.

It’s going to be hard. We’re going to be uncomfortable.

When we follow Jesus, it costs us everything - even our lives. That’s the road Jesus is taking, and, if we’re going to follow Jesus, that’s the road we have to take as well.

Jesus doesn’t make any concessions. It’s really just that black and white for him.  The path Jesus takes is the one less traveled because it’s all about serving G_d and others, and not oneself. That’s what it takes to be truly Human. That’s the calling. That’s the price.

But there’s a reward. Following The Way of Jesus creates more opportunity for others to walk it. Walking The Way of self-sacrificing Love manifests G_d’s Realm from obscurity. When people follow Christ, the Realm of G_d becomes brighter, the darkness fades all the more. Until, finally, our world’s realm and G_d’s Realm become one.

But make no mistake. As the beginning of the passage makes clear, there will be darkness before the Light. And the darkness, the saying goes, is always darkest just before the dawn.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC