Thoughts on the Second Readings
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Joe Frankenfield
Brothers and sisters: He “for a little while” was made “lower than the angels,” that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering. He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them “brothers.”
When the first Christians attempted to make sense of Jesus and explain him to others they faced the embarrassing fact that he had been executed by the Romans as a third rate political agitator. Jews, awaiting a messiah to establish God’s rule and free them from Rome found that heretical. Romans smirked at the idea of a God crucified in of one of their backwater provinces.
Some of his followers placed Jesus among the prophets who, they remembered, had frequently been persecuted, even executed, for speaking God’s will to the powerful. His death credentialed him as God’s reliable spokesperson.
Others noted that Jesus had announced the arrival of God’s promised New Age which, everyone knew, was to be preceded by the persecution of God’s faithful by those who resisted it. His death announced the coming of the Kingdom.
The writer of Hebrews understood Jesus’ death as proof of his solidarity with humans so that we would know that God identifies with our welfare and shares our most difficult hardships. Jesus’ death guaranteed our participation in his resurrection.
All these understandings of Jesus’ crucifixion shared a focus on God’s relationship, God’s communication, God’s identifying with us.
Christianity suffers from the tendency to obsess over the mechanics of salvation. Just exactly how – at what moment – by what act, did Jesus accomplish our eternal happiness? We sound like teens in love asking one another, just what is it that made you fall in love with me; when did it happen; how did you know? That’s a great excuse to speak sweet nothings but it’s not the occasion of a profound discussion. On a less romantic level, it’s a question geared to gaining some level of control over what is, ultimately, a mysterious relationship.
God loves you simply because God loves you. That was Jesus’ message. Live all your life in total awareness of God’s love for you. If you do that, God’s love will transform you and the world through you.
God’s love assures our happiness and Jesus’ whole life was the touch of God’s love. That can’t be parsed or proven but we know it’s so.