Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday in the 8th Week of Ordinary Time (II)
Dazed By the Headlights

Readings: 1 Peter 1:18-25; Psalms 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20; Mark 10:32-45
Picture: CC halfninja

People who drive at night along highways in the country sometimes encounter deer crossing the road. It can be dangerous because instead of dashing across to safety, the animal sometimes gets dazed and paralyzed by the brilliance of the headlights. And serious accidents have been known to happen as a result.

In like manner, as Jesus presses on, in today’s gospel, along the highway to Jerusalem, we’re told that the disciples were in a daze, and those who followed were apprehensive. Like deer caught in the headlights, these people were transfixed by the brilliance of the One in whose company they were traveling, the glory of the only Son of Father, full of grace and truth (see John 1:14). To understand how this could happen, we need to ponder a little on what this brilliance, what this glory is like. And it is to the first reading that we need to turn.

For here, we are presented with a striking contrast between two things. We are told that all flesh is grass and its glory like the wild flower’s. The grass withers, the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains for ever. Flesh and Word. The first is subject to change and suffering and death. The second endures to eternity. It’s natural then that having experienced the pain and suffering of the first, we find ourselves yearning for the glorious longevity of the second. We want to escape the impermanence of the flesh, so as to enjoy the eternity of the Word. Isn’t this what brings many of us to church? Or, if not the church, then at least to spirituality of some sort? Like James and John, we wish to be granted special seats by the side of the Eternal Word, privileged places that will guarantee us immunity from the struggles of fleshly existence.

But this is precisely where we end up becoming dazed and transfixed. For, in the person of Jesus, the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. In Christ, Eternity deigns to undergo suffering and death. The Word willingly walks the hard road to Jerusalem. And the coming together of flesh and Word, these apparently opposite poles, causes a spark so brilliant, a light so bright, that all become dazed in its splendor.

How might we be saved from our paralysis? How might we be brought to our senses?

Like the first disciples, we need to listen and listen again to the words of Jesus. We need to hear him speak to us, again and again, of the necessity of his Passion. We need to look intently upon the true brilliance of his glory, the glory that bows and bends in service to all, and then stretches itself out in love on the wood of the Cross. We need to accept the mind-blowing truth that in Christ, life is now to be found even in dying, the Eternal Word even in fragile flesh.

How does God wish to rouse us from our reverie today?

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