Easter 05, Year C-2010

From Vincentian Encyclopedia
We love because he first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19)

It was night when Judas left in order to carry out quickly his intention to betray Jesus (Jn. 13:21-30). The darkness of the treachery was even more impenetrable, I suppose, because the betrayer was neither a stranger nor a foe; rather, he was a friend, one of the disciples whose feet the teacher and master had washed, one in a seat of honor and given a piece of bread by Jesus, and trusted, no doubt, since he kept the money bag (see Pss. 41:10; 55:12-15; [1]). Yet it was precisely at this moment of thick darkness that Jesus said: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”

God, it is true, brightens the darkness around those who believe in him (Ps. 13:29). He leads them out of darkness and makes light dawn for them in darkness (Pss. 107:14; 112:4). As a matter of fact, for God “darkness is not dark …, night shines as day, darkness and light are but one” (Ps. 139:12). He reveals the full extent of his glory—“his ‘own essential worth, greatness, power, majesty, everything in him which calls forth man’s adoring reverence’”—in the emptiness, lowliness, powerlessness, ignobility, appalling disfigurement that are all supposed by Jesus’ being handed over to the chief priests, the scribes and the Gentiles to be mocked, scourged and crucified and be raised on the third day (see [2]; see also Jn. 12:23-33; 1 Cor. 1:18-31; 2 Cor. 12:9-10; Phil. 2:6-11; Is. 52:12-15; 53).

And a wholly new revelation, for sure, is this ultimate revelation of divine glory on the cross, where, “as in a splendid theatre, the incomparable goodness of God,” according to John Calvin, “is set before the whole world.” “For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly,” points out St. Paul in Rom. 5:6-8. And he goes on to say: “Indeed only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Who, moreover, would not find it unsettlingly and offensively innovative and object to it as setting a bad and dangerous precedent that Jesus, the teacher and master, should wash, in the manner of a slave, the feet of his disciples, a parable in action that signifies the presence of the Son of Man who came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many? So, then, “what eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit” (see 1 Cor. 2:9-10).

We need the Spirit of truth to guide us to all truth and help us understand in due time this new revelation so that we may follow the model the master and teacher has given, doing as he has done for us and loving one another as he has loved us (Jn. 13:7, 12-15; 16:13; see [3]). And by doing as Jesus has done and loving as he has loved us to the very end, that is to say, to the laying down of his very life, we reveal to everyone the teacher and master whom we follow and we become citizens of the new Jerusalem and are counted among all things made new by the One seated on the throne. As a new community brought into being by Jesus, we are, “through serving one another with no vestige of pride or position,” to be living sacraments of the love of God that Jesus has uniquely revealed. Within this new community, all leadership is servanthood, the absence of which makes for the rise of an abusive “system of power” [4] [5]. Without the Christian self-sacrificing and long-suffering love that wills and does the best for the other person, we will only be, as St. John Chrysostom expressed in a sermon, the greatest obstacle to people accepting in faith the revelation of God’s glory on the cross.

Authentic evangelization requires, then, of the evangelizers that, because they love as Jesus has loved, they affirm, as did St. Paul and St. Barnabas, the necessity of undergoing many hardships to enter the kingdom of God and say “no to any ‘gospel’ that promises glory without the suffering, and yes to the way of the cross, which leads to a crown” [6]. And this is entirely consistent with the community invitation to the supper of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and whom Judas sold for thirty silver coins instead of giving money to the poor. Yet such darkness and treachery of a sale of the archetypal Poor Man meant, by God’s design, the glory and fidelity of a once for all almsgiving to the poor, “all of us made beggars by sin,” as suggested by the above-cited commentary on Judas’ betrayal.