You did not see Him on the mount
of the Transfiguration
Nor the night He walked the sea;
You never saw corpses color
when bier and grave
Felt the force of His cry.
You did not hear the parables
shaped like a Parthenon of
Nor His tone in talking of his Father,
Neither did you hear the secrets of the upper room,
Nor the prayer before Kidron and betrayal.
O master of courtesy and manners,
who enlightened for you
Your part in the savage charade?
'Lord, when you come to your kingdom,
The kingdom conquered through dying.
O thief who stole paradise from the nails of a stake,
Marshal of heaven's nobility,
Pray that we before the hour of our death
have the gift
To see Him and know Him.
Saunders Lewis (trans. by Joseph P. Clancy in Twentieth Century Welsh Poems, Gomer Press, 1982.)
Holy Week is upon us and this year, Luke's Gospel graces our ears with the Christ who comes to set us free from the tyranny of evil. Okay, that sounds excessively poetic so let's call that Gospel what it really is--The Star War's Gospel. You know what I mean. A battle of light against darkness, good against evil. For that is what Luke's Gospel holds for us. C.S. Lewis coined the term that best explains humanity's situation on earth before the coming of Christ. He called it "enemy-occupied territory". Jesus comes to do battle with Satan, the real enemy. And it is a cosmic, knock-down, world wide wrestling federation battle.
Did you ever notice that in Luke's Gospel there are no terrible people? Even Pilate is made to look pretty good compared with the other Gospels--the same can be said of the Jewish leadership and the Romans in general. Even the people who call for his crucifixion get forgiven by Jesus. Why? Because our sinfulness hearkens back to Satan and the power of evil, and that is who Christ defeats on the Cross. He has such compassion for humanity that he can even forgive the Good Thief. I love the Welsh poem I reprinted above. In our own weakness and sin, may we be be comforted by the fact that someone even worse was given Paradise the day Christ died, all because he looked upon the Lord and asked to be remembered. May Christ remember each one of us this week as we walk with him to Calvary and beyond. (The picture above is of the crucifix at St. Mary Church, Durand, Illinois where I am pastor. Carved in 1926, it has recently been restored).