“In you, O Lord, I seek refuge,” the psalmist cries. Shelter, protection, sanctuary, and a haven of safety and security encompass the definition of the word “refuge.” I am struck that by adding one letter, we arrive at “refugee.” Is not the psalmist’s plea also our plea, one we share with every refugee?
As I read in the Gospel of John of the hours before the crucifixion of Jesus, I am always struck by the sounds of that day. There is the sound of Judas’s words of betrayal; the sounds of soldiers and officers carrying lanterns and torches and weapons; the sound of Pilate’s voice as he asks again and again, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
I have been wrestling with the fact that almost all mainline churches are shrinking. I believe Christianity has the best seat in the house: we have Jesus incarnate — fully divine and fully human. So then, what is happening? One of the reasons I believe the Church is shrinking is because somewhere along the way, the Church let doctrine and creed take the driver’s seat.
Though Judas is implicated here as the purported villain in the story, it is crucial and imperative to be reminded that this interpretation is shallow and mistaken. All of Jesus’ beloved associates and interested parties betray him. No one avoids culpability. None seem to be immune from the virulent, erosive social virus of fear.
In the Gospel, aware of his imminent nearing death sentence, Jesus freely shares that one cannot earn, strive, or possess hope, it just “is.” Rich or poor, Greek or Hebrew, Jesus came to make clear that humble hope — when paired with love — is the basis of God’s call to us on this earth and the basis for our salvation.
May it never be our lot to suffer as Jesus did for the choices he made. Lazarus too was deemed a bounder after his miraculous rise from death identified him as a Christ-enabler. His life too was threatened by the High Priests. And Mary, choosing to spend all that loot on frivolous nard to anoint her Christ, came in for hoots of disapproval.
“You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” Caiaphas, the high priest, speaks. The religious leaders are profoundly threatened by Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead. They are frightened that his popularity will attract greater repression from the Roman occupiers. They are also afraid that…
In the season of Lent, always looking forward in hope to the Easter miracle, I wrestle with my personal journey on the road to Jerusalem. It can be isolating, confusing, and sometimes even hopeless. In today’s lessons, Jeremiah and Jesus meet misunderstanding and hostility for their faith and witness, to the extent that their lives are endangered.