Sunday, February 13, 2011

To The Obedient

February 14, 2011
Memorial of Saint Cyril, monk, and Saint Methodius, bishop

Then the LORD asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" He answered, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" The LORD then said: "What have you done! Listen: your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil!" Genesis 4:9-10

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation." Mark 8:11-12

You sit maligning your own kin, slandering the child of your own mother.
When you do these things should I be silent? Or do you think that I am like you? I accuse you, I lay the charge before you.
"Understand this, you who forget God, lest I attack you with no one to rescue.
Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me; to the obedient I will show the salvation of God." Psalm 50:20-23

The Pharisees treated Jesus like some kind of on-demand magician – able to perform miracles at the drop of a hat. However, the miracle making that engaged Jesus always contained a critical element on the part of the audience – faith. When people turned to Jesus in faith, he was moved with pity and transformed their world.

However, Jesus was not there to perform like some circus act. He was sent in love to love and spread love. When the demands by the Pharisees for a miracle were voiced, Jesus turned his back on the request of “this generation” who wanted action without offering love or faith or obedience.

Unless we get to know Jesus, we could expect him to be like the man running some kind of travelling salvation show. Our study is vital to building a firm basis for friendship with Jesus.

Throughout the Gospels, we rarely see any effort on the part of the Pharisees to get to know Jesus. The prime exception to this is the actions of Nicodemus who not only sought out Jesus at night, but also defended him inside the temple and stood at the foot of the cross when others scattered.

Jesus welcomes us to an authentic call – he calls us and allows us to call on Him in our time of distress. Thus, the love of the Lord is a two-way street. That love is not available to those who forget and reject God. Likewise, to “those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me; to the obedient I will show the salvation of God.”

Jesus was always transforming his world for the good. Rare was the occasion when he would not respond to a request for healing that was rooted in faith and obedience, hope and love.

That work continues today. Because just like Jesus acted out of love, not envy like Cain, we are asked to act out of love. We are, in essence, the keeper of our sisters and brothers. We inherited this role from our brother Jesus.

Who will be transformed by your presence and action today?