Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Foolish Wisdom

"...the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe...but we proclaim Christ crucified,..Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength...He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption."

The liturgical readings for Tuesday in Holy Week speak of the "foolish wisdom", the paradox so confusing to us, of how God transforms us through the words, actions and life of Jesus the Christ. The reading from Isaiah 49 points to the creative, empowering existence and activity of Unbounded Love far in advance of each of our coming into being. "The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother's womb he named me." Even then, you and I were given a specific purpose for being on this earth, and not just a small task, but an all-encompassing one: "I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

The confusing part, as we try to figure this all out in living our lives, is the message we're to discover and to convey in order to spread the light, to make it a saving word, a wise rather than foolish, a strong rather than weak word. Paul defines the message rather succinctly: "...we proclaim Christ crucified [and, he would add, risen and ascended]...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." It utterly overwhelms our human mind in its simplicity yet depth!

John's Gospel passage (12:20-36), though no less paradoxical and confusing, perhaps, gives us some guidance. Jesus says to the disciples: "...I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life will lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor." Fr. Richard Rohr sums it up this way: "God-in-you already knows, loves, and serves God in everything else. All you can do is fully jump on board. I would call that jump consciousness, and I believe the Risen Christ is the icon of full consciousness. In the human mind of Christ, every part of creation knows itself as (1) divinely conceived, (2) beloved of God, (3) crucified, and (4) finally reborn. He carries us across with him...That is my major thesis about how Jesus 'saves us'." (Immortal Diamond, Jossey-Bass, 2013, p. xii)

Jesus, realizing that the moment of truth has all but arrived as he faces death, goes on to speak of his own inner confusion and perplexity. To his human mind, too, this is all so overwhelming. Should he, as gracefully as he can, ask the Father if he can back out of it? let someone else do it? cut and run? That's one option; but then he remembers the "foolish wisdom" of God which has guided his life up till now: "No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name...Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself...

With Jesus as the "icon of full consciousness" for us, the One who "went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified" (Collect for Monday in Holy Week), perhaps we can summon up the courage, the "foolish wisdom", to walk in the light while we have the light, to "believe in the light", so that ultimately he may bring us into the full light of God's glory.

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