Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Powerless to Resist

Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.  Luke 21:12-15

Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen

In the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar,” there are many interesting lyrics but some that always stick in my mind are the stanzas from the title song: “If you'd come today, you could have reached the whole nation, Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.”

Further on, we hear this:

Tell me what you think
About your friends at the top
Now who d'you think besides yourself
Was the pick of the crop?
Buddha, was he where it's at?
Is he where you are?
Could Muhammad move a mountain
Or was that just PR?

The lyricist was totally wrong. If Jesus came today with the same message, despite the tools of mass communication and social media, he would have still been seen in popular culture as an abject failure.  He would probably be sitting in a lonely coffee shop or on a picket line lamenting that the sandcastles of today’s culture are built upon the immediate gratification-foundation of McMansions, McDonald's, and Marty McFly. There are more tickets bought to sit in the seats at the Ringling Brothers Circus every year than people who fill up the pews on any given Sunday.   

Today’s scripture is what Gilbert Keith (G.K.) Chesterton most likely had in mind when he wrote the profound and perfect line: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” 

Jesus had no sense of marketing the short-term customer benefits of his way of life when he spoke like he did in Luke 21 of being handed over to prisons and trials without so much as a public defender to represent you.  Jesus could not care less about marketing or mass communication.  He was solely pre-occupied with the eternal redemption of our souls from the wages of sin and Satan. That’s why he tried to deliver a strong wake-up call that continues to echo forward more than two thousand years ahead. 

This yolk is easy, this burden light compared with the seven last words that Jesus leaves with us before he hands over his human Spirit back to God.

Most people will not be any more interested in the plagues of the Old Testament or Revelation than they are of the modern HIV-Zika-Ebola-Bird Flue era.  It is not the plagues that we should fear.  Without a healthy fear (awe) of the Lord, we will never appreciate what He did for us.  We may not want to wade into the Great Tribulation but wade in we must.  Diving in like St. Peter is more likely our calling. 

What bad habits and laziness in your life do you have to guard against? Sometimes it seems we are powerless to resist the onslaught of temptation.  However, Jesus gives us the support we need -- strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit -- to accept his offer. 

What Cardinal Virtues will help you conquer your greatest temptation?


No comments: