"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

Day 13: Love Endures All Things

An old graffiti scrawled onto a plaster wall in third-century-Rome says, Ᾰλεξᾰ́μενος σέβεται θεόν, "Alexamenos worships [his] God." This work of “art” with the crucified man's head like that–yes, that is a donkey's head–is meant to be a mockery.

F
r Richard Rohr holds that Jesus has accomplished more by acceptance or by his Passion (from the Latin "pati" meaning, "to endure," "to accept") than by his action. What has been translated as “endure” is the Greek verb ὑπομένει (hypomenei) from hupo and meno; to stay under, remain (Strong's Greek 5278). In the 12th chapter of John, Jesus had a chance to avoid his Passion but he remained. Jesus says, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit" (Jn 12:23-24).

Christ’s greatest love was solidified at the Garden of Gethsemane when we see the awful agony he went through while he was there. The garden which may have been owned by a follower of Jesus, was a large orchard of trees surrounded by a stone wall. Jesus often visited this garden to pray in private. Jesus led the eleven disciples to the edge of the garden. Then leaving eight of his men there, he took his three closest friends, Peter, James and John, deeper into the quiet garden for them to see him go through immense suffering. As they walked further, Jesus “began to be sorrowful and full of astonishment and deeply distressed” (Mark 14:33). The meaning behind these words "astonishment" and "distress" (ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν) expressed in the superlative convey a moving out from one's senses and to. What do you think Jesus saw that caused this much fright and sorrow?

Benedict XVI says, “The principal evil is death, which appears as the final enemy, the enemy that stands behind all other enemies, from which we must seek protection in the company of the Lord and his saints” (Eschatologie–Tod und ewiges Leben, p. 23). However let us not think of just any ordinary death that caused great sorrow in Jesus. “Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). St Paul attests to what caused Jesus’ much sorrow, not just death but death on a cross–a humiliating death.

In a blog entry entitled Jesus Died a Hero? Bryan Elliff says that it was not even a heroic or inspiring death–“the kind of act that people would talk about with respect or make into movies with emotional soundtracks.” They had to kill Jesus, together with it, every inspiration that it might ignite in people's hearts. Those who put him to death knew that they cannot afford the mistake of giving to Jesus a heroic death knowing that everyone loves a heroic death. Pilate was “amazed” (thaumázō, to wonder or marvel) when it was first reported to him that Jesus had already died (Mark 15:44). This is the second time he marvelled. The first was when Jesus was on trial and he was silent. "But Jesus said nothing further in answer, so Pilate was amazed" (Mark 15:5). He knew, through his own balancing of things, that the man Jesus was too good to be sentenced to a despicable and disgusting death on a cross. Bryan Elliff further expounds that, “According to Cicero, ‘cross’ was a word that should not even be mentioned in polite company. I wonder if the Romans would have experienced a similar kind of revulsion upon hearing the ‘C-word’ (or S-word, since it starts with S in Greek) as we may experience today when we hear other derogatory expletives. To hear one slave say to another ‘may you be crucified’ would scandalize the Roman as much as certain lewd cursing scandalizes us.”

No wonder in Gethsemane Jesus suffered this rare medical condition which St Luke, who was a physician, makes an account of–“and being in anguish he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Hematidrosis, a.k.a. hematohidrosis and hemidrosis, is so rare that many people don't know it exists or if it's real. But sweating blood has been seen throughout history, e.g., Leonardo Da Vinci wrote about soldiers sweating blood before going for battle. Under extreme emotional stress blood vessels expand so much that they break where they come into contact with the sweat glands. The Bible tells that three times Jesus went back to His disciples only to find them asleep. Three times He went back to pray to the Father, Jesus' Abba, only to find Himself in agony. Despite his struggle in the garden and through the help of an angel, Jesus reached his final decision, to face his Passion and death on a cross. (A Walk With Christ To The Cross: A Discussion Manual by Dawson McAllister, Shepherd Productions Inc. 1980. p. 74).

Our featured song is "Beneath Your Beautiful" by Labrinth. In Lyric Interpretations, you will see the following as its top rated interpretation. I quote, "I think it's about a boy and a girl who find themselves too good for everyone. But someone is finally coming along to be a part of them and learn more about them, and to see the real them... They just want to break each other's walls, strip away (beneaththeir perfect 'shell' they're hiding in, and see their true self and personality. Be the real you" (Parenthetical addition and italics are mine).


Fr JM Manzano SJ

Comments

  1. This is it.......Even mocked until to this time by some, Christ's love remains for all humanity...Allowing to continuously be broken, be given and showering blessings... An enduring love… Thanks! GBU!

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    1. You said it right, he is mocked still but he never gets tired even if we get tired often times finding love here and there. His is a jealous kind of love and he will not stop until he has given everything in his possession to give. GBU!

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  2. Just make a little crack on the wall... overflowing love surely passing through...making all things new…amazing this enduring love.. ripping totally down the tower.. in embracing the true beautiful you…

    How blessed we are
    With our God of enduring love
    Let us celebrate with and thank our Beloved
    On this coming special day of love… : )

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    1. Thank you for that crack image. It reminds me of one of Rumi's quote “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Yet there is Silent light's tenderness as it enters you... such an amazing grace!

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    2. You captured beautifully through your own poetic verses, and in a much deeper way, our theme today. Thanks again for this!

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