MARCH 7, 2012 : Wednesday of 2nd week of Lent –MATTHEW 20:17-18

THE SON OF MAN CAME TO GIVE HIS LIFE AS A RANSOM FOR MANY. The apostles never address the Lord by his name, Jesus; even in speaking of him to one another or to others. His closest associates avoid the familiarity of using his proper, personal name. They lived with him day by day for a considerable time and spoke frankly and frequently with him concerning all kinds of practical affairs as well as more spiritual matters. Yet, the respect he inspired for his person was such that they spontaneously gave him the title Kurios, Lord, Master, or epistates, chief; didaskalos, teacher, was a third term of address used. Jesus referred to himself on occasion as both kyrios and didaskalos.  Not only his friends and close associates showed such respect, so also casual outsiders and even certain of the higher class felt a need to give him an honorary title in their speech whether addressed to him directly or in speaking about him. Only after a decisive enmity toward him, so certain leaders speak of him with disrespect or, later in his ministry, with contempt or accusatory language. They illustrate unconsciously the truth of Jesus’ observation that “he who is not with me is against me.”

This somewhat formal and respectful manner of relating to Jesus of Nazareth is a revealing indication of the Lord’s character and personality. It remains no less meaningful for us today than it was during Jesus’ lifetime for his close associates. One of the most instructive incidents revealing the reason for the sense of special respect inspired by the person of Christ took place on Mount Tabor. The three apostles who were given the grace of witnessing his transfiguration on Mount Tabor were overwhelmed by the vision of the glory shinning from his transfigured body. Eventually, a portion of this same grace was given to all the faithful apostles and holy women to whom he appeared after his resurrection. There is a glory, a brilliant, powerful light integral with his person that surpasses all other splendor. Though usually hidden under the veil of the flesh, yet the divine presence it accompanies is sensed by those with faith that is rendered lively through prayer.

A certain measure of that same gift is offered to us in our own time as we begin to realize something of what it means that our Lord in his Person is the Word of God from all eternity. In proportion as such awareness takes firmer hold on us, our way of relating to the Lord correspondingly takes on new features. We approach him with an increasing sense of respect even as our confidence in his merciful kindness to us grows. This respect eventuates in an enhanced gratitude that he who is so greatly beyond us in worth and dignity, makes himself personally accessible to us in prayer and in the sacrament of the Eucharist in a specially intimate manner. As awareness grows of how surpassing a privilege such sharing represents we become more fully conscious of being the recipients of a love that is given because of his goodness of heart, his surpassing mercy. At the same time and as a consequence, we come to know more clearly how unworthy of such loving kindness we sinful, weak persons are.

As such appreciation develops our faith becomes more lively through prayer with the result that gratitude takes on stronger hold of our hearts and we feel the need to express our new-felt depth of gratefulness. Being keenly aware of the lack of worth in our own person we realize that only by means of the sacrament of the Eucharist can we give adequate expression to God for his merciful treatment he shows us. As members of his body we are privileged to share in the offering of love made for our sake by Jesus on the cross and renewed here on this altar. May our practices during this Lenten season lead us to participate more actively in the mystery of redemption offered by Jesus, in these times when the society we live in grows more indifferent and even hostile to his person and to his teaching.V

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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