WERE YOU THERE WHEN THEY
CRUCIFIED MY LORD?
At one critical point in his ministry Jesus enquired of his disciples what was the popular conception about his identity.
Who do people say that I am? The disciplesí response clearly indicate that the majority of people saw him as a prophet and indeed a significant number of them viewed him as one of the great prophets like Elijah and John the Baptist, but they never perceived his identity in any unique way. Jesus continued to probe yet further by asking his closest disciples about their own personal perception and opinion about him- but what do you say that I am? Peter known for his impetuosity quickly responded-"You are The Christ/Messiah."
Jesus immediately warned Peter not to repeat such a statement in public and then Jesus proceeded to define his concept of Messiahship. Petersí statement was both misguided and inflammatory. First this claim implied that Jesus was a rival of the prevailing political elite and this would certainly engage Jesus in conflict with the political establishment, thereby obscuring the real thrust of his ministry and in the final analysis bringing his mission to a premature and an abrupt end.
Secondly it was dangerous because Petersí response was shaped almost exclusively by his own personal ambition Ė after all if Jesus was a powerful political leader, then Peter would stand to share in the spotlight of prominence, popularity and power. This was totally contradictory to the Mission of Service, which Jesus came to inaugurate. His ministry involved self-denial, suffering, sacrifice and service. He came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.
It was important that his followers understood the nature of his identity and mission because it was only then that they could become an integral part of that mission and share in it.
It is equally important that we know Christ not simply from the orthodoxy of a credal statement or doctrinal dogma but within the context of a personal relationship.
Jesus therefore refused to use or to accept any title or label that would obfuscate or blur the authentic nature of his ministry and divert his followers from being full participants in his crusade. However, while he rejected such labels and titles he has left us with many rich images that define his identity and the nature of the cause for which he ultimately gave his life.
During this season of Lent on Sunday mornings we will take an in-depth examination of his claims, for they tell us not only about who he was but in the process they help to define who we are in terms of our relationship with him.
MARCH 4 -"I am The Bread of Life" (Fr. Brome)
MARCH 11 -"I am the Resurrection and the Life" (Fr. Thanji)
MARCH 18 -"I am the Good Shepherd" (Fr. Smith)
MARCH 25 - "I am the Way, The Truth and The Life" (Fr. Prescod)
APRIL 1 - "I am the Vine" (Fr. Smith)
APRIL 8- "I am the Door" (Fr. Brome)
I pray that as we reflect upon these images that our relationship with Christ will be deepened and strengthened and that through this process we will be empowered to do his will.
I wish you a Holy and Blessed Lenten season with the hope that at Easter we may be revived and be renewed through the power of his Cross and resurrection.
One of the biggest misconceptions around the meaning of the season of Lent is the fact that we think about Lent in purely negative terms. Traditionally we have viewed Lent as a very drab and bland period when in some Churches flowers are not placed on the altar and when our liturgy has a much more subdued tone with the omission of the Gloria or the word Alleluia. For many the observance of Lent is inextricably bound to penitence, abstinence, fasting and self- denial. While these are essential parts of the Lenten observance, they do not capture the full essence of Lent. The word Lent means to spring and it comes from the old English word in which the meaning is of the lengthening of the days, the season in which flowers and trees begin to put forth new shoots.
The Season of Lent then is a time for new growth in our spiritual, emotional and mental lives. So an important feature of Lent is the need to examine ourselves and to explore ways in which we can grow in all aspects of our lives. How we can deepen our relationship with Christ and with each other so that the seeds of unity, love and fellowship can germinate within us.
Very early in his ministry Jesus was very much concerned with growth and development of the Word, of the individuals whom he met and of the community which he sought to build. His entire mission was designed to bring into fruition a community in which every one would have equal access to a quality of life that is the birthright of every human being.
To this end he once gave his disciples a "Pep" talk about the growth of such a community and growth in their personal lives. He explored with them the obstacles and impediment to growth but also he shared with them the inner secrets about those factors that promote growth and development. These talks were delivered in several Parables referred to as the Parables of Growth.
During the Wednesday morning devotions we will meditate and reflect on the several aspects of growth contained in these sayings.
February 28 - Ash Wednesday -A Sower went forth to sow some seed.
MARCH 7 - Some seeds fell by the way side, on the Path.
MARCH 14 -Some fell on Rocky Ground
MARCH 21 - Some fell among Thorns.
MARCH 28 - Some fell on good Ground.
APRIL 4 - The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of Mustard Seed
APRIL 12 - Maundy Thursday - Conclusion.
It is both my hope and prayer that as we meditate upon Godís words that
they may bear fruit in us so that we individually and collectively will
experience his blessings in our lives.
May God bless you all not only during this Holy Season but throughout the
rest of Your lives.
Your brother in Christ.