Since the beginning of Lent we have journeyed with the Israelites through the wilderness, and struggled with the author of Hebrews to understand what Jesus has done for us; we have wondered with Isaiah over the ‘suffering servant’ and lamented with Jeremiah. And through all of this the light of Resurrection has continued to shine… even in the darkest hour.
A phrase that I read halfway through Lent has stayed with me: There is hope within his hopelessness; there is obedience behind his doubt. This is the scripture scholar Tom Wright trying to come to terms with the problem of Jesus being truly God and fully human. He speaks of Jesus, as he goes to his trial and execution, as no longer desiring, but ‘intending’ to do God’s will. Lord, if this cup may not pass me by, but I must drink it, then Thy will be done. Here, he says, is the clue. Jesus was tested in all ways – all the doubts and temptations that we share, he shared – and yet he did not sin. He remained obedient – always listening – to the Father. For those of us steeped in the Rule of Benedict we cannot hear the word ‘obedience’ without also hearing the word LISTEN. Jesus, above all, was obedient, always ‘listening’ to the Father, and listening, again with the force that Benedict gives it, of ‘doing’ his will. Listening for Him is both contemplative and active, all of a piece. In his doubt he remains obedient.
In His hopelessness he holds on to hope. As St. Paul says: nobody goes on hoping for something which can already be seen. But having hope for what we cannot yet see, we are able to wait for it with persevering confidence. Jesus’ hope is the flower of his love for the Father. It is not that he can see beyond the cross or the tomb. Again we hear echoes of our Benedictine heritage: Receive me, Lord, according to your promise and I shall live. Do not disappoint me in my hope.
Jesus has died, and risen, he has entered into the Father’s presence, into the ‘holy of holies’, into the very heart of God, … accomplishing for us a redemption that lasts forever. Jesus, the pioneer of our faith, has entered, through our baptism, that deepest core of ourselves, where we really are who we are. Christ is in us, healing, redeeming and setting us free.
And may he lead us all together to everlasting life!