31 March 2006

Heretic. Blasphemer. Criminal. Rebel.

4th Week of Lent (F): Wisdom 2.1, 12-22; John 7.1-2, 10, 25-30
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory and Church of the Incarnation

Hear it!
How would you like to drive up to Plano, get out of your car at Central Market, and have the folks in the store point at you and yell, “Hey! Isn’t he, isn’t she the one they are trying to kill?” Now, me personally, I would forget the glories of bulk couscous and organic coffee beans and head back to the car! What could be more disconcerting, more disturbing than to find yourself among your own people and marked for death, truly reviled, and hunted? Of course, not everyone was out to kill Jesus for his alleged blasphemies, not the small people or the pushed-aside, but those in charge, those with the political and religious power had labeled him a cancer, a riotous tumor to be found, diagnosed, and cut out of the body of the State and the Temple.

Why? Heretic. Blasphemer. Criminal. Rebel. Take your pick. The problem, essentially, is that the Son of God has come and he is sweeping through history, grabbing the threads of creation, tying and untying the knots of everything that was, everything that is, and everything that will be. He is binding and loosing whatever is loose and bound, and quaking the foundations of the Way Things Are Done. But perhaps most importantly, Jesus’ public ministry points to the consummation of the people’s grandest story, their most fundamental cultural narrative: the prophetic birth of the Messiah, the coming of the Christ among them. Anxiety rules because God is about to make good on His promise to give them a Victim whose sacrifice will split the Temple veil and bring them back, again, out of exile, out of sin, and make them into a nation of priests, a prophetic family, and heirs to His kingdom.

For them and for us, to reject Jesus, to reject Christ’s ministry as our redeeming sacrifice is to reject a history of generous covenant with the Father, to reject a history of prophetic witness to His law given for us, and to reject in history His revelation, His manifest goodness and beauty.

To deny Jesus now, to deny Christ’s ministry as our redeeming sacrifice, is to deny the truth that we are forgiven our rebellions, to deny the truth that we are reconciled among ourselves—that we are a Church, a single Body in Christ—; it is to deny the truth that we are saved, once for all, by his sacrifice on the altar of the cross.

To fear Jesus now, to fear Christ’s ministry as our redeeming sacrifice, is to fear freedom from the slavery of sin, to fear a future set right for holiness; it is to fear the guarantee of our own divinity, our final Beauty, in Him.

To reject, to deny, to fear Jesus is to reject, deny, and fear our history, who we are now, and who God will make us to be forever. Jesus said to the trembling crowd, “You know me and also know where I am from.” He then claims to be from the Father, the one whom they do not know. And they try to arrest him…out of fear, denial, rejection. But his suffering was not due; his time of betrayal and pain was not yet.

His sacrifice and our redemption will wait two more weeks, two more weeks for us to witness his power, his glory.

It is two weeks before iron bites wood through his flesh and blood and we are free…forever free.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Fr. Philip,

    Off topic, but related to blogged homilies.

    Thanks again for warning me about the prudence of moderating comments on my blog.

    I use my "homily blog" only for my homilies. I have set up other blogs to serve other purposes. You ought to be interested in how I have chosen to interact with those who would disagree with me.

    Here's how.

    It is distinct from my homily blog, but mutually hyperlinked with it.

    Fraternally yours in Christ and his Church,