No excuse for posting this one so late except just living summertime…..reyanna
•Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1 • Galatians 3:26-29 • Luke 9:18-24 •
Weekly Scripture Readings: 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Something terrible has gone wrong in Christian history.”
The revelation that occurred in Jesus of Nazareth was not the only positive mutation in the history of humans. Such revelation occurred in others, but it was “Jesus who made God known to us as non-violent and all-inclusive. His teaching forbids us “to engage in any war, any violence, any aggression. The example of his life revealed and inaugurated “the reign of God/ God’s new reality” that he proclaimed. He opened for us the possibility of becoming fully human.
According to Luke, Jesus asked his disciples, “who do the crowds say that I am?” “And you, who do you say I am?”
He intentionally avoided honorific titles such as “Messiah” or “Son of God: and refers to himself almost exclusively as “the son of man.” We heard this in our gospel text today. That term — “the son of man” is a Semitic idiom that means “the human being.” By making his primary self-reference– “the son of man” / “the human being.” Jesus identified himself as the proto-type, the model of what the Gracious Mystery we name God intends us to be.
The more I ponder this, the more convinced I become that our language about “Jesus saving us” does not mean what is commonly thought. I think it means both his life and teaching are directed to helping us become more truly human. We are “saved” when we actually become fully human!
However, “something terrible has gone wrong in Christian history.” The earliest faith communities struggled with the implications of the crucifixion and resurrection. In subsequent centuries other communities continued the same struggle, but gradually focused more on the messenger –Jesus, than on the message – “God’s reign.” Eventually those later communities named him “Messiah” and “Son of God.” The idiom– “the son of man” disappeared from usage. With it his task of helping people become more fully human disappeared and was replaced with the myth of redemptive violence. Theological explanations of the crucifixion reinforce that myth.
The myth of redemptive violence permeates the dominant culture in which we live. That myth was the major theme in the “Popeye” cartoons of my youth and the exploits of James Bond today. In subtle and persistent ways violence is depicted as the ultimate solution in human conflicts.
Since Hiroshima we learned to trust the Bomb keeps us safe. Our politicians speak of defending democracy and Christianity with violence and “war that never ends.” “Peace through war.” “Security through strength.” The Pentagon, National Security Council and CIA consume our resources leaving our schools, health care and physical infrastructure in a quandary. We claim to be a “Christian nation” and use evangelical language, but “redemptive violence” is our true religion!
Our extensive knowledge of the cosmos and our achievements in science and technology are amazing! Yet it seems we still know little or nothing about what it means to be human or how to become human. Violence and degradation on all levels have reached intolerable levels. Perhaps this is because we are only “fragmentarily human, fleetingly human, brokenly human” but not yet fully human. Perhaps as some scientists suggest, this means that at this stage of evolution we are the “missing link” between primates and human beings.
Because “something terrible has gone wrong in Christian history,” I remind you of the revelation that occurred in Jesus. He, the Risen One, is the proto-type, the model for us of what it means to live an authentic human life. In him the Gracious Mystery we name God invites us to become fully human. So let us not simply dream of what a more human existence and a more human political order can be like. To be fully human in a violent world means to be non-violent in our thinking and acting.