The Gospel for Sunday, May 14, 2017:
The Gospel text for this Sunday has much to say to modern people. I come back again and again to the beginning: "Let not your hearts be troubled." We are in a time period where so many of us have troubled hearts.
I worry about our hearts becoming hard as stones once we all decide that we're tired of being troubled. History shows us this trajectory. Right now many of us are steadfast in our resistance to becoming a country that doesn't seem true to our values. But what happens when we grow tired?
I look at the way part of this passage has been misused, verse 6: "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" I think of all the ways that passage has been used to persecute those who believe differently. Are we ultimately on that path?
I worry about the ways that so many of us are engaged in binary thinking, the either-or, in or out thinking that can get us into so much trouble. We spend much time with ideas exactly identical to ours. We can go for weeks/months/years without meeting someone with different political ideas than ours. We live in a different kind of segregated world than that of half a century ago, but it's no less dangerous a segregation.
On Sunday, morning, in my Internet ramblings, I came across a quote from Thomas Merton, in this post from the ever-wonderful Parker Palmer:
"This is of course the ultimate temptation of Christianity! To say that Christ has locked all the doors, has given one answer, settled everything and departed, leaving all life enclosed in the frightful consistency of a system outside of which there is seriousness and damnation, inside of which there is the intolerable flippancy of the saved — while nowhere is there any place left for the mystery of the freedom of divine mercy which alone is truly serious, and worthy of being taken seriously.”
In this quote, we see a way forward. Even as so many of us are in despair about so many things, God is making creation whole again, in ways that we don't always perceive.
The Gospel text for this week includes an implicit invitation. Jesus invites us to be part of this redemption of creation when he says, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."
Where and how will you respond to this call?