Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The darkness around Jesus

The darkness around Jesus grows as we hear today of the betrayal of Judas and the cowardice of Peter.
It is important for us to realise that Jesus is not powerless against the growing evil intentions around Him. He could, as He tells us later in the Gospel, summon legions of angels to defend Himself. It is important for us to realise that Jesus chooses not to summon legions of angels; He chooses not to use force, of any kind, to defend Himself against the various attacks that are coming His way.

This can seem strange to us. We think it an obvious thing to use one’s power to defend oneself and thus avoid evil. But of course that is to think of just one’s self. Jesus, on the other hand, is on a mission and it is not about saving His own skin; it is about saving mankind! His mission is to face evil, to face betrayal, to face the cowardice of friends, to face false accusations, to face an unjust sentence, to face scourging, to face immense violence, and to face even death itself not with fear but with perfect love. He seeks not to avoid these things but to conquer them with love.

The darkness that is growing around Jesus is not just the darkness of human sin, human fear and human folly but also the darkness of the kingdom of Satan. It is Satan’s kingdom that is growing around Jesus in order to do away with God! Satan seeks to destroy God and all His Kingdom. And the only way He can do this is to pervert the hearts of men in their sin. In Peter’s heart is fear and Satan uses this to tempt Peter into cowardice – Peter is not strong enough to resist fear, and so Peter ends up denying this man whom Peter had said he is prepared to go to death for. In Judas is a heart of duplicity: he hides from the others his malice and evil intent, and for whatever reason he is willing to sell his loyalty to the enemies of his Master – and thus in Judas’ heart is a place ready for Satan to dwell. Satan enters Judas. Darkness falls all around.

The dimensions of the love of God are shown precisely by Christ’s acceptance of His suffering at the hands of evil men. This love of God cannot ever be conquered because it is divine. But Satan cannot see this! Evil men cannot see this! Men filled with fear cannot see this! Can we?

Love, perfect love, becomes a victim of all the schemes of wicked men, and becomes a victim of the kingdom of Satan, but remains true, remains unsullied, remains bright. And thus love conquers fear, hate, evil intent, violence, mockery, suffering and death itself. It does it not by human power but by human weakness re-made into the power of God. This path of self-emptying love is the path we are called to walk because by it we share in our Saviour’s victory.


Sunday, 9 April 2017

All glory, laud and honour to thee redeemer King...

This morning we begin a symbolic journey. Our journey is symbolising our Lord’s own journey. His journey was aiming at the Temple - the ultimate place of worship for God’s people then. It was the place of sacrifice – and Christ, at the end of His journey would make it the place to bring all sacrifices there to a close. He would make the ultimate sacrifice of Himself. He became the Lamb – the Lamb of God. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

So we journey this morning to our local version of the sanctuary of the temple – but the sanctuary of the new temple, which is Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ Himself is the ultimate worship by mankind. Our sanctuary therefore reminds us of Jesus Christ crucified, but also of His presence with us now: the tabernacle of His presence. The tabernacle is a sign to us all that God has not forgotten us now. Yes we are sinners. Yes we have failed many times as His disciples. We on our own are weak. But He is with us, and He calls us again to come back to Him and to receive from Him His inestimable gift – His very own life poured out for us - the grace of the Eucharist.

So let us walk with Him, not just symbolically as we do now, but also in our lives – let us turn to Him afresh and renew ourselves as His disciples, and let us carry our cross through the journey of this life that we might share in His resurrection.

Fr Ian

DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)