Just one more blog and the archive reaches 1000! I don’t think the back numbers are irrelevant, although they contain marks of their dates of origin. Even I can benefit from what I gleaned from the bible on a particular day in the past. It might work for you also.
Today’s blog is based on the Episcopal reading for the Tuesday of Holy Week, and is accompanied as always by a headline from world news:
DANISH MOSLEM LEADERS MAKE PEACE WITH DANISH JOURNALISTS
Some Greeks Wish to See Jesus
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks.21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.23Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
Only John’s gospel records this incident. Jesus takes the interest of some Greeks as the sign that his “hour” has come. The extension of “God’s people” to include the Gentiles will only be achieved by the completion of his own ministry, in which his life will fall into the earth and die and bear fruit in the ministry of the Christian community throughout the world. This pouring out of life is an iron law according to Jesus: only those who “hate” mere life enough to pour out their true life for others, can be fruitful for themselves and others. Nobody who is unready for this outpouring should pretend to be a servant of Jesus, for the servant must be where the master is.
If that sounds harsh and dismissive we should see it as the necessary accompaniment of Jesus passionate love of human beings which brings him to his death and defines once and for all the nature of divine goodness: it is a steady, sacrificial love of all creatures. To receive it is to be asked to transmit it. If we cannot yet transmit it fully, we have not yet received it fully. “The measure you give will be the measure you get” “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”-the reciprocal nature of the good news is evident in all the gospels: we will not fully know the good news for ourselves unless we become good news for others. Yet we are not required to initiate this love, only to respond to it; the news that we are dearly loved comes before the expectation that we should become capable of loving dearly.
Of course I know I am not yet capable of the love through which my life is poured out for others, far from it! But I know that this is asked of me and I have taken the first painful steps in fear and trembling. No more than that, yet I believe that as I allow my tight heart to be prised open a little more by others I shall also receive a little more of that infinite love which has created me. How difficult it is for the seed to trust that being thrown into the ground and split open is not death but life. St Augustine spoke of “cor incurvatum in se” the heart turned in upon itself, as the condition of sin. The story of Jesus rescues us if it breaks our hearts.