Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The hour of Christ's death on the cross, the "hour of glory" (A brief reflection on Jn. 8:21-30, Tue. 5th Wk of Lent)

Still they do not understand. "Who are you?" the Pharisees ask Jesus in today's gospel reading. All this time, all those miracles, all those kind and loving words, and still they didn’t recognize him.

One of the recurring themes in the gospel of John is precisely the inability of many to recognize Jesus and appreciate his ministry. Even the disciples, time and again, are presented as having such great difficulty in understanding him.

All such misconceptions and lack of recognition, however build up to a climax which, in the Gospel of John, is the “hour of glory” when Jesus will finally be revealed as the Son of God, and the Savior of Israel.

And yet, even at that point, perplexity is the order of the day. For the very moment of glory is also the moment when Jesus dies on the cross—an event that seemed to be the very opposite of glorification.

This is the greatest paradox of John’s Gospel. And it’s a paradox that has confounded many who encountered Jesus, not only those who refused to believe, but even his closest friends.

It is only after the resurrection that his disciples and many others will come to realize what he had been telling them all this time, that his Kingdom was not of this world, and that his being Messiah is different from the way they had come to expect a strong, and powerful ruler.

The way of Jesus is the way of humble service and the way of the suffering servant. There is tremendous consolation here, especially for those who of us who find in suffering a great stumbling block to our trust in God’s love and compassion.

Nothing, not even suffering, is outside the scope of God’s love and care for us. For in him, even the deepest and darkest moments of our life can find meaning and redemption.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)