Gospelreflection – Luke 23: 35 – 43

Feast of Christ the King

The passage from the letter to the Colossians contained in this week’s readings is a favorite of mine.  It’s one of the great Christological hymns in the letters attributed to St. Paul that offer an opportunity for some deep reflection on the natures and person of the risen Christ.  One verse in particular struck me this time: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Reflecting on Christ as the universal principle of Being reveals something quite important about us.  We are, each and every one of us, radically connected.  Not just in the sense of a nice sounding platitude, or economically or socially or emotionally – but at the very core of our existence.  To BE human is to live in relationship with God , creation, one another and ourselves.  The deeper we move into these varying interlocking relationships of our lives, the more human each one of us becomes.

I often use the image of mountain climbers tethered together as the ascend an extremely high peak.  The winds blow fiercely, visibility is often near zero, the ground is icy, steep and treacherous.  Being attached to one another means that if one member of the party slips, the other are there to save him from falling.  But it also means that if too many lose their grip….well, it’s a long way down for all.

I’m thinking that at this particular time in our national history and in our experience as a Church the strongest temptation we are fighting is the illusion that this radical connectedness  isn’t true.  We have begun to believe that it’s possible for some of us to be saved at the expense of others.  Understand salvation on whatever level you want to do so – the end result is the same.  It’s a dangerous fiction and the price we pay for buying into it is our humanity.

How wide must our vision of comuunity be?  Look at this week’s gospel. As you look up towards Calvary in your imagination, look at the two theives and Jesus, hanging together on crosses.  Is our vision wide enough to include those whom we love most dearly as well as those who we despise? Do we really understand – can we accept the truth – that unless we can love both we don’t really love either?

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

(To purchase book length versions of my scriptural studies and reflections, go to www.twentythirdpublications.com)

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