Sunday, January 3, 2010

A rescued commentary

I rescued this post from the oblivion of our parish blog that has kind of gone dormant. I love the entire Johannine corpus (i.e., The Gospel According to St. John, the three letters attributed to John), which is why I loved our diocesan deacons' retreat last fall when Dr. William Shaules, who teaches Scripture at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and at Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical Protestant school also located in the greater L.A. area, spent three days taking us through John's Gospel. Because on Epiphany we rejoice in the fact that the infant Jesus was made shown to be both messiah and Lord, this bit on what that means seems appropriate for today's grand feast:

We turn to Christ in the recognition that we are missing something, namely the good that we not only seek, but want to be. Hence, we recognize that we are sinful. Christ is expiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). To expiate means to make good. So, Jesus, in his own person, makes good the bad we freely choose. What an exchange! This is the good news in which we believe, trust, thankfully accept, and give witness to by lives that are changed. This change brought about by Christ we call conversion. To be converted is to be transformed. Sounds great, right? The working out of this often hidden dynamic is a mysterious phenomenon. This is why mercy towards sinners is so crucial. Perhaps what those who call themselves Christians, but who persist in serious sin and wrong-doing, are hoping for is a magical fix to their troubles. Nonetheless, the fix comes when their behavior catches up to them. Here is where the healing can begin, when what is done in the dark is brought into the light, but only if handled in a Christian way. On my reading of the Gospels, the only people Jesus seems to get really frustrated with are those who refuse mercy, preferring instead to cast stones (see John 7:53-8:11- While some manuscripts of St. John's Gospel do not include this pericope and some place the narrative after John 7:36 or after 21:25, with some even locating it in Luke's Gospel after 21:38, with variations in the text, it is of apostolic origin and an authentic part of the Tradition. In other words, it is nobody except the Lord forgiving and teaching mercy).

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