Friday, April 25, 2014

You Too Are The Beloved Disciple

The “Beloved Disciple” Is Each of Us

The beloved disciple looked down into the grave, he saw the folded grave cloths, and he believed. Mary Magdalene heard her name, recognized the voice of Jesus, and she believed. Jesus appeared that night to the disciples, and they were overjoyed. Thomas touched the wounds on Jesus’ hands and side, and he believed.

That beloved disciple seems rather pesky at times. How is he—probably he—always in the right place at the right time? How can one disciple be so favored over all the others? It is not fair!

For the first several decades of my life, I mistakenly believed that men were more favored by Jesus. After all, as I was frequently reminded, only men were chosen as the twelve. There was an inner circle, and then all the rest of us who could only aspire to being camp followers. It seemed Jesus had formed yet another boys-only club around him— no different from the rest of the world. I would always be on the outside looking in; being content to receive fragments of left-over faith after the men had digested it.

Then I discovered the beloved disciple. This person is elusive: reclining on Jesus’ breast (John 13:23); at the cross (18:15-16); recognizing Jesus on the shore (21:7); the source of information for the Gospel (21:20-24). Who would not want to be this disciple? I researched the possibilities of who this person could be— which resulted in a lot of theories and interesting reading—but no convincing identity.

Then it occurred to me, this disciple could be any one of us! The identity of this person is stubbornly disguised for a reason. Therefore, any one of us can identify with the place of the beloved disciple. This extra disciple can be any believer —I personally do not think one of the twelve would be tolerated as “beloved” above the rest (Matt 20:20-28). It could be you or me, female or male, Jewish or gentile, poor, influential, or whoever finds herself or himself otherwise excluded.

That beloved disciple is there for all of us. We do not have to be male, Jewish, Galilean fishermen—one a traitor—to be in the inner circle.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

From Witless to Witness

From Witless to Witness

Have you ever approached someone and asked, “Where are you buried?” Mary Magdalene has asked the most likely question of greatest cluelessness possible. Granted, Mary did not know yet that she was actually talking to Jesus. Jesus looked like a gardener; we gardeners like that. 

She turned away with discouragement. Then she heard her name in a voice she knew! “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’” (John 20:16). Her world, the whole world changed when she heard her name. She was changed from witless to witness, “Go to my brothers and tell them” (John 20:17).

Jesus knows his flock and calls them by name (John 10:3). In that verse he looks like a shepherd. We too are changed when Jesus calls our name. From witless to witness!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Day of Mary's Sword

Perhaps today should be "Mother's Day."
This is the day of Mary's Sword. The day of which Simeon spoke in Luke 2:33-35: "The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 'this child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Above is Michelangelo's Pieta where he so poignantly portrays the sorrow of Mary. On this day Mary no doubt finally fully understood the words of Simeon spoken to her and Joseph so many years before, on the day of his circumcision- a joyful day. What could have these words possibly have meant to her only eight days after giving birth?  

Granted Mary's grief was unique; today is also a day to remember the countless mothers and fathers who grieve for lost children. Children lost in childbirth, to famine, and plagues. Parents grieving today for children lost in missing planes and sunken ferries. May the hope of Jesus' resurrection bring them comfort.