A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road...
We enter Holy Week, aware that this is global pandemic. Those who die in Italy, Iran, and Wuhan are no longer foreigners to us. We remember the crowds and know that we are all in this together. No one is isolated from the compassion of Jesus.
I had made plans to fly out West to see my elderly mother and recently hospitalized brother this Sunday. Then the virus put us all in limbo. My concerns for their health and safety heightened with each news report. The bad fall my brother had taken at the end of February broke ribs and damaged his lungs. The verse, “And Jesus wept,” resonates with me. In this time of travel restrictions, I am thinking that Jesus had been weeping for many days.
"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."-Jesus
If we learn the lesson of compassion, the coronavirus will reveal to us the glory of God. This disruption to our normal lives, has brought us to the place where we can encounter Jesus anew. Once we know we are blind, the sight-giver will come.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."
Social distancing has long been practiced in religious communities. If there is anything that the last three years has taught us, it is how to think like one of Jesus’ disciples before he died on the cross for the world. Fearing others brings out the worst in us.
In the spiritual world there is no doubt, all are loved. In this world, however, we toil under constantly changing conditions. Sometimes we are accepted. Sometimes we are scorned. We learn in time to doubt ourselves.
"See, I have set before you, life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life..." - Moses
From time to time, we are in situations where we must make a choice. The right choice leads to life, health, and the continuation of the loving relationships we enjoy on earth. Choosing wrong, may result in death.
"Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven" - Jesus
Light was the beginning of God’s creation. God said the word and made light. Called it good. In the fifth chapter of Matthew, Jesus calls us good. That is the over-all theme of his sermon on the mount.
"the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" - the Apostle Paul
Those who think that wealth = happiness, the stock market = economy, and smarts = wisdom, will have a hard time accepting the wisdom of the cross that Paul talks about or what Jesus was doing when he blessed the poor.
"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" - John the Baptist to his disciples about Jesus
If we read the Gospels, I think we see what John the Baptist saw. We know that maybe we should follow that Jesus. Maybe we should become his disciples. That leads us to the question, “Who can be a disciple of Jesus?”
"Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him." - Matthew 3:13
When Jesus enters into Jerusalem, he is baptized again. This time by his suffering on the cross. He descends into hell and sets loose those who were held captive. Then on Easter he exits by way of the resurrection. This is our road map.
Jesus says, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."
Jesus speaks of doing particular things; feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, befriending the stranger, clothing those exposed to weather or social cruelty, caring for the sick, and visiting the imprisoned. Our opportunities to be Christ-like will come in the form of specific people with individual needs.
When we do Christmas, it is very tempting to skip the story of King Herod's murdering the children of the Bethlehem region. I remember one adroit fool suggesting that we could skip Matthew 2:13-23 in our Sunday lections because the event discribed doesn't appear in the secular histories of the time and could have been made up by Matthew. The only secular histories we have from this period are pro-Roman and okay with Herod's "lock innocents in cages" type of politics.