In a church I served some time ago, there was a calligraphy note taped in the pulpit: We want to see Jesus. Isn’t that just the truth. We look in all sorts of places and are surprised when we do not see the Savior for whom we search.
I wonder whether we may be looking for the wrong Savior.
I am fairly certain that popular enculturation teaches us not to recognize the Jesus Christ who is broken open and buried in the earth. Most of us do not long to perceive the presence of Christ in our own suffering or in the desolation around us. We seem to look for saviors who are glorious, victorious, and unscarred superstars. The cross of the Christ, with the broken body of the man from Galilee upon it, redefines glory in a terrible way, doesn’t it. Even the risen Christ bears scars, by which his closest companions recognize him.
In the third chapter of his letter to the people of Philippi in Greece, St Paul writes from prison to share the reasons he is rejecting all worldly things. The status of religious groups, rich food, and personal recognition no longer matter to Paul. He embraces humility, emptying himself, and even physical discomfort because he has set his hope on the resurrection. This is Paul’s testimony to faith. He is certain that the returning Savior will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory. Paul expects to find his life in letting go.
Over the last year, we have left behind so much. What else do we need to leave behind in order to follow the path into holiness? The Christ subverts the status quo, consistently rejecting worldly power, standing resolutely with others who suffer, always working for the transformation of an unjust world. Toward what we hope is the end of a long and difficult season, surrounded by many reminders of our mortality and cumulative anguish of loss, I ponder several things:
In what way shall we imitate the wounded Christ, without accepting as normative or beneficial the systematic wounding of human beings?
Would anyone recognize Jesus in the way we walk with the suffering?
In what way shall we respond to the invitation to let go of transitory worldly comforts, and pour out our selves for the glory of God?