Shadowlands

Forthcoming events cast their shadows before them. We cannot help but be affected by whatever is coming down the road to meet us. Christmas holidays, summer holidays, weddings cause us to think ahead and feel the excitement of their arrival. More sombre issues like hospital or operations or a prognosis of our final days brings us into dark places and sad times even before they arrive.

 

In this week before Holy Week we see Jesus in conversation with his foes, the Jewish elders, and all his talk is about his coming death. Holy Week will give us gospel stories about all the things that happen – events – but here and now, this week, the shadow of those events causes Jesus to ponder and to talk out loud about his coming death.

 

You want to kill me, he says to his opponents. They do not deny it. Life is precious. It is all we have, and Jesus is not going to let anyone take his life away from him without challenging them about the evil that they do. It is also time for him to speak openly about who he really is, that God is his father, and that he truly comes from God.

 

Jesus also says some truly inspiring things. If we keep his word we will come to know the truth, and the truth will set us free. If we keep his word we will never know death. This word must indeed be powerful if it can do that for us. Keep the word of Jesus and know what it is to be free – free of all worry and anxiety, free of all sin, of all the things that drag us down. Keep his word and never know death – never know the death that kills the spirit: and know that our physical death is no death at all, but the gateway to everlasting life.

 

They picked up stones to throw at him then: So much for human conversation. Let us just accuse him of blasphemy and be rid of him. This is how wars begin. We give up on conversation because we do not like what we hear. Let force solve our problems for us. That never works, of course, but still we go to war.

 

Many people are now losing the precious gift of life: Ukrainian people, Russian soldiers – All because one man has given up on human conversation. One man, an autocrat, who by very definition, does not engage in dialogue or listening, has embarked on a one-way form of language – violence.

 

Russia has been an oppressive state all my life. Freedom of speech does not happen there. Lies abound, and now Putin has latched on the ‘Fake News’ propaganda so beloved of Donald Turmp.

 

Jesus did not escape his enemies. They nailed him to a cross in the end. But before that happened he named their sin and their lies. On the cross the truth was written above his head – the king of the Jews. On the third day he rose. The stone was rolled away from the tomb. You cannot imprison God’s truth.

 

Brian Fahy

7 April 2022

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