‘Look, the world has gone after him’ (John 12, 19)
‘Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, 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 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 honour. ‘ (John 12, 20-26)
If only everything was neat and tidy. It is not the case. On Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday and the Entry into Jerusalem. Yesterday we were in Bethany at the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. This latter event is recorded in St. John’s gospel before the Entry into Jerusalem. Then John tells of the Palm Sunday event. If that seems a little complicated just forget it.
We are in Jerusalem and the palm branches have been laid before Jesus. St. John keeps up the pressure on the authorities though. He mentions specifically that Lazarus is with Our Lord. Lazarus is an open wound to the temple authorities and religious teachers, because people had heard about the miraculous event just over the Kidron Valley in Bethany. Naturally enough the crowds are curious, curious not only to see a man alive who had been dead, but if we are right this is a man who had been suffering from leprosy, not only a desperately painful and fatal illness, but a socially isolating illness. No rubber gloves and designer face masks in those days!
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus. John 12, 1-11.
Some people like to keep a diary. I understand that Queen Elizabeth II keeps a daily diary. How interesting would that be to read, if it is ever published in the future. Keeping a diary is such a brilliant idea in marking all the significant events or people in your life. It is such a brilliant idea, I wish that I had done it!
Keeping a diary, or in its more contemporary form nowadays, a journal, has become a common feature in the life of those exploring the possibility of being ordained or being licensed to an authorized ministry like Reader ministry.
It is a solid base for recording events, people, reactions, reflections, and emotions. Journalling is an effective tool for any serious personal development. It records information, contributes to formation, and hopefully, by God’s grace, results in some form of transformation. Any Christian could do this very fruitfully.
Thankfully, ‘journal keeping’ also gives us insights into the past, especially when the journal holds valuable information that connects with events years, decades, even centuries later. Such a journal is illuminatory.
Deacon Christine Saccali of St Paul’s Athens preached live from her home in Athens.
May I speak in the name of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit AMEN
Pope Francis tells of this encounter with a young person of our times but before Covid-19 restrictions:-
“Let me share a story with you. Chatting one day with a young man, I asked him what sort of things made him unhappy. A strange question maybe as usually we ask the opposite question what makes you happy? His reply came back when my mobile phone battery runs down or I lose my connection to the Internet. The Pope asked him why. Father, he answered, it’s simple I miss out on everything that is going on. I am shut off from the world, stuck in these moments, I jump up and find a charger or a wi-fi network and password. Pope Francis continues; that reply taught me something. It made me think that the same thing can happen with our faith. We are all enthusiastic but after a while our bandwidth can fade slowly and our connection to Jesus along with it. Then we become unhappy and disconnected because our batteries are dead. If we are not careful the background noise of the world overwhelms us.”
During this difficult period, we are more likely to be tuned into news broadcasts as the pandemic of Covid-19, the media and its far reaching consequences may overwhelm us, and every part of our lives including our faith. But the background of the world as we knew it may have faded away. People in stricken Italy talk of hearing the birds in the cities, of course they were always there, but they were drowned out by busy noise. Italians confined to their apartments opened their windows or balconies and burst into song or music. That went viral in a good sense of the word.
I am in touch with friends in Italy and they tell me of noticing the small things and how they have become the important things. Father Malcolm Bradshaw, now in Venice, talked about being alone in St George’s church last Sunday where public worship has been suspended for over a month now, and saying the morning office as we are doing. On his walk back he noticed a seagull fishing out a soft shelled crab and eating it. Normally or usually we would not notice these things. Take time to do so now we have plenty of it on our hands.