Dispel the Chaos
The biblical story of redemption that we meditate on during Lent and the Easter season displays the truth of an unfathomable love that is good beyond human understanding, and a God who looks at us with loving eyes and says keep going … because, no matter how bad things look, the best is yet to come.
As I reflect on my journey this Lent and Easter I am stunned by the mercy of God and the paradox of faith. We are reminded at the beginning of Lent that Jesus came out of the waters of baptism and the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit came down to remain on him. The voice of God said “this is my beloved … In him I am well pleased.”
As I understand it He makes that same proclamation at every baptism of His sons and daughters promised in faith. It is good to note that Jesus had not really accomplished any of his mission when he heard those words of affirmation. In the same way, most of us are just starting out when we are baptized. We too need to hear those words of affirmation each day. I try to allow God to remind me each morning how much He loves me. It is a paradox to me because I often don’t think I am accomplishing much but I still see by faith that He is well pleased with me.
We hardly have time to reflect on Jesus baptism because he is immediately driven into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. In my own life I have noticed a pattern of spiritual highs followed by temptations and failure. This Lent I started out with intentions of praying more, and coming closer to Jesus. But at the end what I saw clearly was not more of Jesus but rather more of my own weakness and failings. The paradox I came to understand this season was that as I became more aware of my own failings and weakness, others were able to see Jesus in me more clearly. Saint Paul said that it was in his (St. Paul’s) weakness that Jesus was able to display his power.
As we heard more during Lent we went from teachings, to miracles, to transfiguration, to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and then to the passion, death and resurrection all in a short period of time. I thought about the chaos in the lives of the disciples during this time. The incredible highs and the unthinkable lows. It is no wonder that the disciples had a hard time really understanding what Jesus was telling them with everything that was going on. While our lives may not be as dynamic as theirs, the world around us seems to be changing at an alarming rate. It is easy to be caught up in the debates and utter foolishness of many in the global community in which we live these day. But in all this chaos I believe Jesus looks at us and says keep walking in faith because the best is yet to come for those who do. The paradox that stands out to me is that when the disciples thought things were really going well, apparent disaster was on the horizon. And when the disciples thought all was lost, the dream was crushed, and hopes were dashed … a new age of grace the likes of which the world had never seen was on the way. In our day it appears that many moral and social justice trends are going the wrong way. Let us pray that where evil abounds grace will abound even more.
As I read in John’s Gospel I noticed that Jesus worked really hard to convince the authorities that he was who he said he was and that they should believe and be saved before it was too late. Even in the face of his own death his Divine Mercy drove him to labor for those who refused to believe. In the end he said, even if you don’t believe what I say, believe on the bases of the miracles. Sadly, they refused.
The world around us is in such darkness. Just as in Jesus day there are those who say evil is good and good is evil. The church labors to convince people of the need for God and His mercy. She labors to convince people that we still need traditional wisdom that has passed the test of time. But, sadly, many refuse to listen.
In all of this I see more clearly that my real hope, my real home is not in the world, any more than Jesus was of the world. It is a paradox to me that many think our so called enlightened human understanding must replace traditional values and wisdom that the Bible clearly outlines. But I must not get caught up in this foolishness but instead, devote my heart to the one who is Love and allow His presence in me reach out to all who are brought across my path.
Then in John’s Gospel we come to a climax of all his signs. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead after he had been dead 4 days. There was a Jewish believe at the time that the spirit of a person could linger by the body for 3 days but after that the spirit was truly gone. Now says I, the critics will surly come around. After all a lot of people were at the funeral and were mourning. A lot of people had payed their last respects. This is one miracle that surly they could not dismiss. However, I remembered the words of Jesus in his story about the poor man; He said that if people don’t believe Moses and the Prophets, neither will they believe even if someone comes back from the dead. Apparently he was right. Not only did the religious authorities refuse to put their faith in Jesus, but they plotted to kill Lazarus too, because a lot of people came to believe because of Lazarus. This is such a paradox to me. The sign that should have removed all doubt from the minds of the leaders actually caused them to plot the death of the author of life.
Of course in the end we know that he is risen. We know that his promises are true. And we know that the best is yet to come for those who call upon his name and follow him. It is a paradox to me that even this does not seem to provide a solution to the chaos in the world, but it does give us the path of faith to follow which does dispels the chaos within the human heart.
Philippians 4:4 says – “do not worry about anything, but instead offer prayers to God that are full of gratitude, and God’s own peace will stand guard over your hearts and minds. Finally, fix your mind on all that is good, and true, and lovely, and praise worth.” If I do this I find the chaos within is replaced with peace. May the Shalom of heaven stand guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as you look to the author and perfector of your faith … Jesus.