Saturday, March 26, 2016
What the World Needs Now...
"What the world needs now, is love, sweet love,
It's the only thing that there's just too little of..."
It is the Eve of Easter Sunday. Over two thousand years ago, people wept over the loss of the Lord Of All. His body wrapped in the tomb, His messages of love and hope, quieted. The promise of the King that would rescue them gone.
He could have rescued Himself as they arrested Him, tormented Him, humiliated Him, tortured Him, and yet, He didn't bring forth the powers that allowed him to raise Lazarus from the dead, give sight to the blind men, heal the sick, and bring hope to a downtrodden people weary of the poverty and the violent world they lived in.
He was born to a young girl unmarried and a virgin at the time of conception but betrothed to a loving man who willingly took Him as his own.
We know little of His childhood, but we can assume that Mary taught Him love, scolded Him when He needed it, and showered Him with hugs and kisses often. She would have showed Him compassion as she helped her neighbors and those with less, and took care of her other children. He learned at her knee, while doing the household chores, while taking care of younger brothers and sisters, while listening to her words and watching her actions. She could not have done this if she thought of Him as her God, for she needed to raise a man. Raising a God would be too overwhelming.
Joseph too, would have taught Him love for he was a loving man. He would have taught Jesus acceptance and gentleness, and He would have taught Him the hard work of being a carpenter. The painstaking and artistic beauty of carving something from the materials that God had given. The need of creating something serviceable and beautiful. The fairness of trade. The value of money. The spirit of generosity.
His spiritual leaders would have taught Him how to read and write, the words of God, the rituals of the Jewish faith, and the needs of the people.
His friends and neighbors would have shown Him the lives of shepherds and fisherman, rabbis and teachers. He would have seen the examples of the poor and of kings, all names that he adopted as His own.
And His Father in Heaven would have taught him the rest.
He took all that He was taught and showered it upon the people, giving them three great commandments:
Love your neighbor.
Those three commandments take care of everything.
But there were those who saw Him as a threat and before long He was nailed to a cross leaving His followers wondering why He didn't rescue Himself. If He could perform miracles, which they had all witnessed, why didn't He perform a miracle for Himself? They needed Him. He was their rescuer, their superhero. Why didn't He break the nails and climb down from the cross?
Even worse, He cried out to His Father asking why He had been abandoned.
But there was no rescue for Jesus. He did not step down from the cross. No angels came to save him. And now He lay alone in the tomb.
It wasn't until the next day, Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, that the answer came. Not only had He risen from the tomb, He had risen fully intact except for the marks of the nails and spear to prove who He was. It was another Mary who saw Him first and ran to tell the others who didn't believe her.
We still grapple with the implications of this. The gift He gave us which we do not fully understand. The ability to finally cheat death. That death has no meaning but is just a doorway to eternal life. The grace of forgiveness. We do not understand it. We have theories. We have those who can't grasp it and therefore reject it. We overlook the pain he suffered in Gesthemane, paying for our sins because it doesn't make sense. We focus on the suffering on the cross even in some religious communities reenacting it in efforts to understand what He went through. But we can never understand what He went through. He did it so we wouldn't have to.
He stepped down from the cross, intact, whole, greater than He was before, reclaiming His rightful place, changing the crown of thorns for a crown of eternal glory, one that He shares with us all, if we choose to accept it. We don't even have to understand it. We are just asked to embrace it.
And yet, we still ignore His three great commandments. We live in a world where we blow people up, and blow people out. We call each other degrading names, and forget to love people as ourselves. We follow leaders who preach hate and revenge. We stomp people down to raise ourselves up forgetting that it is by raising others up that we raise ourselves. We put money ahead of people claiming that it is all ours. We say "I did it all by myself" without recognizing the people who helped us along the way and hold us up. We complain about the poor even though Jesus loved the poor. We are suspicious of the "other" even though Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan - the other. We look down on those who rely on the help of people even though Jesus relied on the help of people for food and lodging. We look at people who serve as menial servants while Jesus taught the nobility of washing His followers feet. He taught us Love.
We have been given the key of happiness, and instead of using it we throw it away, looking for a different key and trying the same ones over and over again, never finding success and blaming God for our failures when we have been told and shown what to do.
And although we can each do our part in embracing His commandments we can't do it all alone. We need each other. We can't do it "all by ourselves".
What the world needs now is love...