Things Jesus Said. . . and meant (3)

Jesus’ view of family was expansive. He loved his mother and all his extended family, but his views of family went far beyond blood relationships.  The gospel of Mark tells us that “all who do the will of God” were considered to be the mother,  brother and sister of Jesus (Matt. 12:50).

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, slowly losing his life, he saw his mother standing there, along with “the disciple he loved” (possibly John, the one who wrote the gospel with this story). Knowing that he could no longer care for his mother, he asked this disciple to care for her…and for her to take care of the disciple:

40 Lent--Holy Week--Words of Jesus--Woman here is your son (click on image to enlarge)

Over the centuries, Christians have interpreted this in a variety of ways, and that is as it should be. Scripture is full of meaning–many layers of meaning, like a poem.

 So what does this bible passage speak to me today? I’m thinking about how this nearly-final utterance of Jesus crosses boundaries. Jesus could have told Mary to go live with her brother, uncle, or cousin. Instead, he asks Mary to take up residence with his friend, a disciple.

His choice is significant because it breaks with blood relationships–and, I assume, the social/religious customs of his time and place.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, enters into a kind of familial relationship with the disciple. John is to treat Mary as his mother, and Mary is to treat John as her son. Considering their culture, this makes it quite likely that Mary would go to live at John’s home, or that John might go to live with her.

All this reminds me that Jesus invites us to view others outside of our blood relatives, as if they were family members. “Love one another” is not only a slogan for those in one’s family, but rather reaches down the street, through the village, beyond culture and nationality–and, in our time, into the global community.

This is especially relevant in this time of intense polarization in my country. Jesus does not love only Democrats or Republicans; rather Jesus loves them all as members of his family. Jesus does not love only “straight” or only “gay” people–Jesus loves them all, and welcomes all to be his “brother” or “sister.” Christ does not view people outside of the Christian church as enemies, but rather as created by God, loved by God, as children of God.

 This is what I believe: Jesus loved all people while dying on the cross.  Jesus died to bring life to the world… the whole world, and all the people in it.

And Jesus continues, this day and into the future, to love all people.

Until next time, Amen! 

Words Jesus said. . . and meant (2)

The gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus was crucified between two criminals, one who scoffed at him and one who respected Jesus. It was this second criminal who admitted his deeds deserved punishment–and then asked, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.”

In that moment, while hanging on the cross, Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

39 Lent--Holy Week--Words of Jesus--This day paradise(click on image to enlarge)

 This story reminds me that Jesus reaches out to all, and welcomes all into his kingdom. The “bad thief” was also welcome, but he wasn’t interested. In fact, he mocked Jesus. It is the “good thief” who welcomes Jesus–and who is received into the kingdom of God.

I also notice that Jesus didn’t make special demands on the “good” thief, in this last moment of his life. Jesus forgave him right then and there–and promised him eternal life, communion with God forever in heaven.

As I think about this today, I think about the symbolism we can apply to our own lives today. Jesus is alive, present in our midst. Do we mock him? Stone him? Crucify him?  Or, do we welcome Christ, ask forgiveness, seek grace and the kingdom of God?

Something to think about.

Until next time, Amen!

 

 

Things Jesus Said…and meant

During this last week before Easter–often called Holy Week–I’m going to post words of Jesus. Here’s one thing Jesus said while being crucified: 

38 Lent--Holy Week--Words of Jesus--Forgive them (click on image to enlarge)

That anyone would say this while being tortured and cruelly executed is a truly remarkable thing. It reminds us that Jesus forgives our sins even in the most horrendous of situations. No sin you commit is so big that Jesus cannot forgive it. Christ’s love is more powerful than sin itself. 

This is a key message of Christ, and one that should make us think about how we treat others…Do we show mercy and forgiveness to others?

Something to think about…

Until next time, Amen! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Jesus says about love and discipleship

Words of Jesus on love/compassion:

37 Lent--Week 5--Compassion--Jesus in John 13 34-35

Most of us have heard this many times, but this message is still fresh, still needed, in our world today.

It’s worth going back and reading again–and creating your own prayer about what Jesus says–right now….

Until next time, Amen! 

Augustine, Love, and Spiritual Cosmetics

When ancient spiritual writers talk about “beauty,” they are often talking about something deep, virtuous, and lovely in the soul. Surface beauty is fleeting, but the deeper soul-beauty can last forever.

32 Lent-Week 5--Compassion--Augustine

“Love is the beauty of the soul”…I think what Saint Augustine is telling us is that love is what makes our souls beautiful. He’s talking about that genuine love–the kind of love that Christ has for all people, the kind of love that is willing to die in order to save another’s life. This kind of love could be called “spiritual cosmetics” … only it’s much deeper and more profound than cosmetics could ever be…

True love for one another is what makes us beautiful–and Christ proved he believed this by staking his life on it.  I often think it’s the teachings of Jesus–his love of others– that really brought on his death on the cross. People don’t like hearing stuff like “love your enemy” or “forgive one another.” Certain people also felt their own earthly power was threatened by Jesus’ popularity–and his teaching, they thought, threatened their own earthly power.  I don’t know. I’m just thinking aloud here.

Until next time, Amen! 

Advice from Jesus about almsgiving

Words from Jesus about almsgiving:

21 Lent--week 3--almsgiving--Jesus in Matt 6 3

Jesus must have known people who were giving as a way of showing off to others. They gave to those in need (charities)  as a way to prove to others they were holy, and even “holier” than those around them. As a result, they received a good deal of praise for their actions.

It’s something to think about . . . Do we give to others because we care, or do we give to see our name emblazoned in stone for others to admire?   You can read more of what Jesus said in chapter 6 of Matthew’s gospel. (If you don’t have a bible, just google “Matthew 6  3 ” or “Matthew 6”.)

Until next time, Amen! 

Give unto others–just as you would give to Christ

Today’s quote makes me think of Matthew 25… when Jesus talks about when we care lovingly for others, especially those in need, we are also caring for Christ. When we cruelly ignore the needs of others, we are also being cruel to Christ.

19 Lent--week 3--Almsgiving--Herrick

This is a great challenge… and a life-long kind of pursuit . . .

Until next time, Amen!