Thursday, June 21,2018
Today, in Mercy, our readings are a study in contrasts. Our first reading from Sirach describes the fiery majesty of the prophet Elijah. Everything about Elijah was thunder and lightning. He toppled kings and raised the dead, and generally cast a path of fire as he preached. At the end of his life, he passed into heaven in a chariot of flames.
The Gospel presents a Prophet of a gentler stripe – Jesus, who is teaching us how to pray.
Jesus says to pray simply, humbly, to ask for forgiveness, and freedom from temptation. He tells us to forgive others, avoid evil and be content with our daily bread. No fiery chariots; no tumbling governments. This gentle man will die in the agony of the cross.
No wonder those who hoped for a Messiah like Elijah were disappointed in Jesus. No wonder we still struggle to understand the contradiction of the Cross.
However, Walter Brueggemann says this: The crucifixion is
“the ultimate act of prophetic criticism
in which Jesus announces the end of a world of death…
and takes the death into his own person”.
Still, the witness of Calvary would remain nothing but a contradiction without the transformative act of the Resurrection.
Through the combined witness of Good Friday and Easter, Jesus not only confronts the old order, he embraces and transforms it. He takes to himself the same suffering and death that we all must face, but he shows us that it cannot destroy us. He proves that, ultimately, death has no power over those who believe in Him and in the Father Who has sent Him.
Indeed, the Our Father is a most powerful, prophetic prayer. It teaches us how to be in the presence of God even in the midst of our daily life. It shows us how to express our faith in God’s Kingdom even as we live in our earthly one. It helps us to become a little more like gentle, powerful Jesus.
Music: Aramaic Our Father – in the orgs that Jesus likely used.