Saturday, May 24, 2014

On Account of My Name

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.  And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”   John 15:20-21

God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, which is pretty much everyone, since I’m clearly not you, God.  At least not the last time I checked.

And while you’re at it, God, please give me the courage to change what I need to change about myself, which is frankly a lot, since, once again, I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.  It’s better for me to focus on changing myself than to worry about changing other people, who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying, I can’t change anyway.

Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter than everyone else in the room, that no one knows what they’re talking about except me, or that I alone have all the answers.

Basically, God, grant me the wisdom to remember that I’m not you.  Amen

Jesus just wants to be a part of our lives.  Much of what he speaks to addresses ways for us to walk with him, dwell with him, and unite with him in thought, word or deed.  He teaches us to pray as he does to the Father.  He asks us to imitate Him.  And he asks us to work in his name not any other. 

Doing so will set us apart from people motivated by other goals.  “[T]he Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.”  (John 14:17)  We know the spirit of truth when we come to know Jesus.

The Notes from this passage in the New American Bible explain that the term “Spirit of truth” is a moral force put into a person by God, as opposed to the spirit of perversity. It is more personal in John; it will teach the realities of the new order (John 14:26), and testify to the truth (John 14:6). 

But the other forces of the world will not appreciate the “truth.”  While that truth might set us free from being enslaved by consumerism, entertainment, capitalism or our local sports fanaticism, we will end up being “hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)

Jesus reinforces this message of unity with Him and how it makes us estranged from the world in the Sermon on the Mount:  “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.” (Luke 6:22)  The idea of persecution for Jesus’ name is frequent in the New Testament.  For John, association with Jesus’ name implies union with Jesus as Eucharist is communion with Jesus.

Two actions by Jesus bookend the Last Supper Discourse.  First, Jesus conducts the most humbling of service when he washes the feet of his Apostles.  Second, Jesus surrenders to the physical forces of the world which arrest, convict and execute his mortal body.  Through that surrender, he is not extinguished but rather he conquers those forces by rising above them. 

This weekend we can celebrate, honor and remember those who sacrificed their lives for us.  In addition to the veterans who fought for us, do not forget others who were innocent victims of violence and hatred that paved the way for greater freedom for all.  We have all heard about Martin Luther King, Medgar Evans and Malcolm X.  However, veterans like Army veteran Jimmy Lee Jackson helped to pave the way for the voting rights act.  Korean War veteran Clyde Kennard survived the battles thousands of miles from home only to be barred from attending an all-white college.  Framed for a crime he did not commit, Kennard died of cancer in prison two years before the first black students attended what is now known as the University of Southern Mississippi.   

On this Memorial Day Weekend 2014, read and remember the sacrifices made by these veterans and other forgotten martyrs of the American civil rights movement here.  

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