March 2018

March 2018
"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."
John 12.23 (NRSV)

This month's saying points us directly to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the pivotal point of St. John's Gospel. The whole narrative of Jesus' life has been leading up to this point. Nearly half of the Gospel is devoted to Christ's passion, death and Resurrection.

And here at this stage in the Gospel we are following him, like his first disciples. He has gone up to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Some gentile Greeks want to see this celebrity figure. So when Philip and Andrew come to tell Jesus, he is concentrating on what lies ahead and says to them - 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.'

Glory and glorified are words used often in this chapter and throughout the Gospel. They are very Biblical words and are taken from the Hebrew word 'Shekinah' meaning God dwelling among his people, accompanied by a visible display of his presence. Jesus takes one of the brightest words in our vocabulary and plunges it into the darkest areas of human experience - a violent, cruel and painful death. Everything we associate with 'glory' has to be thought through and contemplated in our minds. We are dealing here with mystery and paradox.

Jesus is beginning to draw the first disciples into this mystery. 'I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all men to myself.' There is the story of a priest entering his church to find a young boy stealing a valuable item. Rather than lecture him about stealing and theft, he takes him to the large Crucifix on the wall, tells him about the Cross of Jesus and tells him to look it at and ask for God's forgiveness. The Cross of Christ shocks us and yet draws us into the love of God in such a deep and profound way.

Decade after decade, century after century, the Cross of Christ has drawn countless millions of people to God, from every race and nation. The power of the Cross is a mystery into which we enter and points us to God's glory. It's as we gaze on the Cross, and try to contemplate its meaning that we are mysteriously drawn into God's love and glory. And our prayers of intercession for all people are offered in the knowledge that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world. This is the glorious mystery we enter in our contemplative prayer.