Should we hide?
No, go out and…
“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” The Jews then said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
An excerpt from the traditional Gospel for the beginning of Passiontide is above. The Jews confronted Jesus, saying He was evil. Jesus boldly proclaimed the reality of who He is, God. He called Himself “I AM,” the name of God given to Moses from the burning bush. Because of this the Jews sought to stone Jesus, to kill Him on the spot.
Jesus knew that this was not the end He was to endure. The time was not right. Now hunted, Jesus was forced into hiding to avoid a premature execution. The shrouds covering His images in the Sanctuary symbolize the fact that Jesus was forced out of the public eye. This is a very solemn and important Sunday in our Lenten journey. The covering of sacred images is somber; we feel the tension build as we move toward of the Lord’s passion and death.
As we walk through our daily lives we face tensions, decisions, contemplating whether the time is right to proclaim Jesus. We have to consider, in our current, so called post-Christian age, whether we can boldly proclaim that Jesus is “I AM,” that He is God.
We know too that proclaiming is not enough because so many are distanced from the concept or idea of what God really is. Jesus is God, YES! But, what does that mean for those who are hearing of it for the first time?
Simply put, God is all knowing, all-powerful, all just, and most important to us, all loving. He came to us with one purpose – reconciliation. In His death He reconciled us to Himself. We have a new and wonderful relationship with God – and all are welcome to join in that relationship. That’s the message we need to send in our words and actions.
Might we get “stoned” if we declare these words? Perhaps. Some people won’t like it, or may wish to impose their view of what God is – an unjust and mean judge, a magic genie, a wish granter, a nice guy who lets us decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. It is not that easy. Never is. A relationship with God takes more work, as we must strive to meet God’s expectations: that we love Him and each other.
The statues are veiled. Our faith cannot be. The message of God and His love is ready for the telling. No “stoning” should stop us because love and His promises are ours – far more powerful than any opposition.