The Rev’d Ann J. Broomell
Christ Church, New Haven
March 22, 2016
Tuesday in Holy Week
In today’s reading from the Gospel of John we see Jesus struggle with the reality of what is to come. In this Gospel he goes knowingly to his death, yet he has struggled with the truth that approaches and accepted his fate.
With the perfect vision of hindsight, you and I might ask how the leaders of the Hebrew people could have failed to recognize that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah, truly the King of the Jews? But then, we look at our own lives and see how often we fail to recognize Christ in our lives. How long it takes us to see God coming to us again and again. (1)
Like those in today’s reading, we, too, would see Jesus. Are we so very different from the disciples? We may look with dismay at their cowardice, their denials, until we see ourselves in them. How do you run away from that gentle tugging? How do you deny who you really are? How do you fail to stand at the feet of those who suffer?
The cross can be for us a rod rooted so deeply into the earth that no matter how much our life sways and shatters, that rod will not fall, will not fail to support us. As we remember from the twenty-third psalm: Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. (Ps.23) We can struggle as Jesus struggled. We can ultimately hang with Jesus on the cross; we can cling to the cross, and find ourselves strengthened by its stability, healed by its love.
Diogenes Allen writes: God became a human being in order to suffer as we suffer….He became an outcast from the mainstream of society to have a vital connection with outcasts. He became condemned as a criminal and died among thieves so that he would be identified with those who suffer unjustly. He was forsaken by all his friends and companions so that he was united to those who are forsaken. He became utterly vulnerable to be like those who have no one to help them. Only when he had fully achieved his identification with us on the cross, did he say “It is finished.” (John 19:30) (2)
As adults, particularly in this culture, we can be taught to move through our lives seeing the world as made for us, at our disposal to make of ourselves what we can. In spiritual maturity, we move from believing that the world was made for us, to believing that we are made for God.
Being made for God, we are made to carry on Jesus’ life and ministry, Jesus identification with the outcasts, with those who suffer unjustly, with those who are forsaken, with those who have no one to help them. We are made to be Christ in our world, today.
That knowledge can enable you and me, today, to fight on in our battles for good, to persevere in our struggles, separately and together. In that knowledge we can find the unassailable strength needed as we work against the evil, injustice, greed, and hunger for power that surround us. The courage, dignity, endurance we see as Jesus approaches his death speaks to us. His actions give us courage, dignity and endurance—a healing presence and an energy towards good.
(1) Smith, Martin L., SSJE. Love Set FreeCambridge, Cowley Press, 1999, p. 19-21.
(2) Allen, Diogenes, Quest: A Search for Meaning through Christ. New York: Walker & Co., 1990, p. 5.
(3) Ibid. Allen, p. 72.