Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reflections on the Passover of Jesus

My Rejection*

Through sin I sense that my freedom is being compromised by God’s will, instead of attaining fulfillment by becoming attuned to it. I regard consenting to God’s will as a threat to my freedom against which I rebel. In my rebellion I am open to the temptations of the Evil One that deadens my soul by which the Evil One creates all the injustice and suffering ravaging the earth. I fail to recognize truth, so the rule of pragmatism takes its place and the strong arm of my powerful will becomes the god of my world. My own will imposes itself repeatedly. And my knowledge of functional truth grows, but so does my blindness toward truth itself – that real knowledge of my identity and purpose. Thus this vineyard I cultivate fails to yield for God the noble fruit of justice, which is grounded in love. Instead it yields the sour grapes by being concerned only with my will. And because of this I am faced with a choice:
• Saying yes to God Who works through the power of truth and love
• Build on something tangible and concrete – using violence.

My Transformation

The Lord uses my ignorance as the motive for His plea for forgiveness: He sees it as a door that can open me to conversion. Jesus brings my anguished cry at God’s absence before the heart of God Himself. He identifies Himself with my suffering, with all I suffer under “God’s darkness”; and takes my cries, my anguish, my helplessness upon Himself- and in so doing He transforms me. Jesus’ cry of extreme anguish is at the same time the certainty of an answer from God, the certainty of salvation – not only for Jesus Himself, but for me as well. His blood speaks of reconciliation. It is not poured out against me; it is poured out for me. And my human will, as created by God, begins to be aligned with the divine will. I become present within the Son’s obedience and thus I am drawn into the Son ship.
By walking with Jesus my soul’s darkness is gradually illuminated. As the transforming power of Jesus’ Passion begins to flow through me, I receive the fount of purification. And the trials of life slowly burn me clean. My journey with the Lord opens me to the realization that meaning triumphs over the power of destruction and evil. I learn to read the Old & New Testaments afresh. I pray the psalms in a new way, in fellowship with Christ. For in Him the past, present, and future are always united. It is through His obedience to the Father that Jesus draws me into Himself and at the same time wipes away all my disobedience through His love. Jesus elevates my recalcitrant nature to become its real self, and in the process transforms the fullness of my will into the will of the Father.
Thus I am becoming:
• He who is waiting
• He who trusts in God’s promises and waits for their fulfillment
• He who recognizes in the words and deeds of Jesus the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom.

My Response

I am called to bear witness to the truth by:
• Giving priority to God and to His will and not to the interests of the world and its powers.
• Making creation intelligible and its truth accessible from God’s perspective:
o in such a way that it can serve as a criterion and a signpost in this world
o In such a way that the great and the mighty are exposed to the power of truth.
Truth confers light and greatness upon all things. Redemption can only proceed when the truth becomes fully recognizable, when God becomes recognizable in Jesus Christ. The full inauguration of Jesus’ Kingship is centered on this truth and becomes my true liberation; for Jesus is the concrete expression of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is also the image of hope: God on the side of those who suffer, for the hidden God remains present within Jesus, Who remains the image of God even as He is subjected to violence and vilification. His suffering mirrors:
• The inhumanity of worldly power
• The ruthless crushing of the powerless
• The sin in the world.
• My turning my back upon God
• My taking control of the world around me.
And the peace that Christ offers depends upon justice that cannot be established at the expense of truth.

My Lord and my God

God Himself removes the veil and reveals Himself in the crucified Jesus as the One Who loves to the point of death. As the risen Lord, He is now the shepherd Who leads, through death, to the path of life: He offers up His life and He goes before. He experiences the final loneliness, the whole anguish of the human condition. The abyss of sin and evil penetrates deep within His soul, and He becomes the true “liberator” through His love that embraces me. Now I can truly speak to God.
Because Jesus is the Son, He experiences deeply all the horror, filth, and baseness that He must drink from the “chalice” prepared for Him: the vast power of sin and death. All this He must take into Himself, so that it can be disarmed and defeated in Him. At the same time, God becomes manifested as He really is: the God Who, in the unfathomable depth of His self-giving love, sets the true power of good against all the powers of evil. While Jesus draws my natural will away from opposition and toward synergy, and in so doing He restores my true greatness. This transition is accomplished through the sacrifice of obedience; and the Cross becomes God’s glorification, the glory of God made manifest in the obedient love of the Son. On the Cross, Jesus becomes the source of life for Himself and for me. On the Cross, death is conquered.

The Kingdom of God

Jesus has actually achieved a separation of the religious from the political, thereby changing the world: this is what truly marks the essence of His new path. The defense of the “place” and the “nation” is ultimately a religious affair, because it is now concerned with God’s house and me. The “Temple” of the New Covenant with its new style of worship, has come. Jesus dies for me, and the mystery of vicarious atonement shines forth, constituting the most profound content of Jesus’ mission. With the new covenant, punishment, destruction and rejection are not the last words; it leads to healing.
It is the fact of the death/resurrection, that is at first unintelligible, which paves the way for me to obtain a fresh understanding of Scripture. And it is through the discovery of the harmony between the Word and event that I am to embrace the Church. It is to me in loving communion with the Lord that the Church is entrusted. I am asked to take the Church into my life and carry out Jesus’ final instruction.
I am thus called to become the martyr who is drawn fully into the obedience of Christ, into the liturgy of the Cross, and hence into true worship; the true worship in the sense that I become a total answer to God, shaped by God’s healing and transforming Word. The more my whole being is directed toward God, the more I exercise true worship. And it is the Eucharist that purifies and draws me into perfect worship offered by Jesus’ obedience on the Cross.
* Jesus of Nazareth: Part 2 by Pope Benedict XVI 2011 Pgs 145-240. The only change my reflections made is in the style of the book: I personalized them instead of leaving them in the second and third person plural (we, us, they and them).

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