Tuesday, March 18, 2008


As we soon go into the Easter Triduum I find myself haunted by one of the saddest lines, for me, in the Scriptures. It is rooted in the context of the ongoing battle between bowing to the God who created (and redeems) us and the human autonomy that chooses to seek its own way — something initiated in the very first act of disobedience.

As Jesus stood before Pilate, the people who for hundreds of years had been God’s people cried, “Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

And then those awful words: “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered (Jn. 19:15,16).

The desire for temporal security.... the possessiveness of a pathetic piece of personal position.... an insistence on self-righteousness.... all these things (and they each deserve our extended reflection) so blinded the very people on whom God first had chosen to give his Kingly rule that they turned away and sided, not only with the powers of hell, but with the very earthly tyrant they so despised. Such is the deceitfulness and destructiveness of sin.

In our world today, we cannot give Jesus first place and at the same time give ourselves to compromising demands. Neither “national security” nor personal comfort and convenience can be the first concern of a faithful Christian. We are (supposedly) following the One who said if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it (Lu 9:23–24). Jesus is our King, and he asks for our total allegiance.

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