Thursday, April 5, 2007

Maundy Thursday

from Wallace Robbins' "For Everything There Is A Season" :

There were many reasons for rejecting Jesus. His own brothers and his mother could not take his claims to a mission seriously and urged him to come home. His neighbors were annoyed by his presumption, for they knew that he was the son of a carpenter and that he had grown up in Nazareth. Who did he think he was!

The scholars pointed out that he was unschooled, without academic credentials. Those who were specialists in matters of the occult said that the remarkable cures he seemed to be able to effect were due to his familiarity with demons. The good decent people were shocked that he not only had no compunctions against it but actually sought out the company of grafters and prostitutes. It was doubtful to the pious whose dyspepsia wasted their flesh that a man who openly enjoyed eating and drinking was worth much spiritually. One of his closest followers watched him receive a luxurious present with disgust. He said aloud that it could have been sold and the proceeds given to charity. The man upon whom he chiefly depended for intuitive knowledge and ready loyalty chided him for taking his mission so seriously that he would willingly risk his life for it.

Near the end Jesus, who mostly appears to be positive and optimistic about men, grew discouraged about all of his own disciples. He was aware of their different motives for joining him, different from one another and different from his own. Some wanted honors in the coming kingdom; others, power over this world; others wanted to be given his affection, to lean on him; still others, to possess his spiritual strength and have the glory of going about casting out evil and doing good. He could give them none of their wishes in the quality and quantity they demanded and he became a man of sorrow even before a scourge was laid into his flesh or a nail was driven between his bones, for those who marched with him, waving the banners of victory one day, he knew would scatter on the day of danger. When darkness would cover the earth and the curtain which covered God would be rent from top to bottom, his followers would be far from him: betrayers, deceivers, run-aways.

The church, which in some distorted yet true way stands as a shelter and home to the spirit of Jesus, is subject to the ancient rejections of Christ himself. For the church is approached as was Jesus as a source of personal favor. What good can the church do me and my family? is the question. The answer is harsh, unwelcome. The church can only teach you to stop asking such selfish questions, perhaps to teach you to deny yourself and take up your own cross.

Happiness does not consist of avoiding life and all the mixture of good and bad people in it. Nor does it arise out of abstaining from food and drink, and insulting those who offer you the tokens of their love. All the goods of the earth are blessed and all the people are better than good, for they are forgiven. The world is good because the spirit of healing broods over it even in its groaning and travail. The worst of personal living has in it the gift of grace, and death has no victory over him who knows that it is not on this side of its shadow but through its darkness and on the other side that there is felicity. It is by losing our life that we find it, not just at the end of our years, but now.

There are still reasons for rejecting Jesus and his everlasting spirit which haunts the church which he founded, waiting for unselfish muscle to find animation, waiting for devoted spirits to affirm his purpose.

From Frank O. Holmes' meditation manual "My Heart Leaps Up" AUA, 1956.

Maundy Thursday: I believe in...the communion of saints. Apostles Creed. Prayer: For the wonder of all companionship: the exchange of word and thought, the achievement of work together, the sharing of joy, I give Thee thanks. In cheefulness, patience, fidelity, and good-will, may I be found worthy, this day, of the comradeship of good men and good women. Amen.

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