April 3rd, 2009
by Wendy J. Miller
Associate professor of spiritual formation and author of SoulSpace
Reflect: Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture: John 15:12-17; 12:12-16.
Jesus knows it is time for him to enter Jerusalem. He knows what lays ahead, and in preparation for what awaits him – and his followers – he invites them to a love which holds in a deep listening to all that Jesus has shared with us. In this way we are Jesus’ friends. And just as he listens to his Father for what he is to say and do, so he asks us to listen. We are to love him in this way, and to love one another. This love will be tested over the next few days, but as we continue on this Lenten pilgrimage in the gospels we learn that even if his closest friends and followers abandon him, Jesus never abandons them.
As Jesus leaves Bethany, a crowd has already gathered: expectant, eager, sure of victory. As Jesus seats himself on a donkey the crowd gather around, cutting leafy branches from trees in the nearby fields to lay on the ground ahead of him. They begin shouting the prayer they know by heart from the Hebrew book of prayer, the Psalms.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord –
The King of Israel!” (John 12:13; see also Psalm 118:25,26)
Surrounded with the sound of the chant, blessing him, welcoming him as King of Israel, Jesus rides across the foothills of the Mount of Olives, knowing that his life and work have been misunderstood, and that no such political victory and earthly throne will happen. Deep in his heart he grieves over the inability of the people of Israel, God’s own people, to see and embrace the presence of God among them, and the peace that God offers .(See Luke 19:41-44)
Jesus is God among us; God coming to us offering peace, the way back home. The things that make for the peace which Jesus brings will challenge and dismantle the way of the world and all that is not of God. According to the world’s system peace is known when war ceases because the military might and strategy of one nation is greater than the other, when peace treaties are signed and national boundaries agreed on. But God invites us to a deeper peace-making; this peace begins as we embrace the truth that we are at war with God, within ourselves, and with each other. The way back home begins here as we accept God’s way of peace-making. Only later will the disciples grasp what the Hebrew scriptures were truly saying about Jesus, this One whom they had lived with, listened to, walked and worked with, for the last three years.
Take some time to be present for God, simply to be with God.
What are the things that make for peace in your life?