The Jews are plotting against Jeremiah. His message is unsettling to them and he must go. Rather than listen to what he is saying and coming to a deeper understanding they refuse to abandon their comfortable ways. They have hung the Do Not Disturb sign on the Temple.
In the Gospel, we see Jesus preparing the disciples for his journey up to Jerusalem. The authorities are of the same ilk. Jesus is discomforting them and he has to go. Does Jesus turn back? No, like Jeremiah and the prophets before him, he trudges on knowing full well that he is walking into the jaws of death.
How disappointed Jesus must have been. At this stage in his ministry, the disciples just have not caught on. Nor have their doting parents caught on. Jesus is talking about challenging empire, social distinctions, and class distinctions and the mother of Zebedee is thinking about power and prestige for her boys.
Speaking of power and prestige—the airwaves are abuzz with the resignation of the Pope and speculation about why he stepped down and who will succeed him. The Pope resigned because a person can muster the energy to be destructive only so long. Like his protégé, John Paul II, Benedict has accomplished his mission. He is standing on the deck of the Vatican shouting victory, “We have turned back the errant reforms of Vatican II. People have so misunderstood the freedom fostered by Vatican II.” How can we maintain patriarchal control of the church if the people of God have been set free to enter into deeper relationship with God? Maybe in prayerful retirement, Benedict will have time to repent of his role in destroying Vatican II and covering up sexual abuse. Anyhow, that is my prayer for him.
Back to the sons of Zebedee. In Matthew’s account, it is the Jewish mother who seeks power and prestige for her boys. In Mark 10, the boys themselves approach Jesus and ask to sit at his right and left. Matthew wrote after Mark and apparently saw the need to tone down the gross misunderstanding the boys exhibited. When Jesus went apart to pray, he must have wept in frustration. “Why don’t they understand? Why don’t they realize that the first shall be last and the last first? Why don’t they understand that I am about proclaiming liberty to captives and freedom to the oppressed? Why don’t they get the big picture that I am concerned about the least (not the most powerful) among us? Why, Abba, why?”
This scenario is so much a part of the human experience. American individualism has matured to the meanest point. WIFM rules the day (What’s In It for Me?) We are very prone to ask, “How can I get more power, possessions and prestige? I need more toys so I can feel more important and exercise more control and power? Ho can I earn a place at Jesus’ right or left? How can I gain control over others?” All these Randian I questions translate unfortunately into a corporate thing—American exceptionalism.
Matthew wants us to realize that the Kin-dom is not about power, pride and possessions. It is about living in community as the Body of Christ now made present to the world. The DNA and energy and fire power of the Cosmic Risen Christ courses through the veins of the Body giving it life and strength and hope.
Matt Fox and Andrew Harvey are emailing daily reflection on the Cosmic Christ in preparation for an upcoming series of live and web presentations (http://www.christpathseminar.org/faculty/brian-swimme/):
Matthew Fox: In Christianity, the Cosmic Christ is not only the light in all things but also the wounds in all things. That is the archetype of the Cross—the price that one pays for taking on shadow powers and imperial forces. [Thus Jesus is going up to Jerusalem.] (2/22)
The price of the evolutionary thrust, the cross, is at the core of the Cosmic Christ because we cannot incarnate that evolutionary thrust unless we take on the full conflictual nature of the universe.
We must take on the dance of the light and dark and necessity of truly understanding our own shadow so as to be awake to the terrible shadows that are threatening the life of the world and now the future of the world. (2/23)
Andrew Harvey: To incorporate the cosmic Christ into your life you are going to have to do two things. First, it is essential that you begin a deep mystical discipline, go on a very profound mystical journey, that can open you up to the radiance of the Cosmic Christ in and as everything. You are going to have to uncover the living reality of the Divine in all things. That is the first step. (2/24)
Andrew Harvey: The second step is to understand that when you experience the mystical vision of the Divinity of all things through the Cosmic Christ, it is not only given as a healing of your own private heart.
The vision is also an enormous challenge to step forward into the world to witness the truths of justice and compassion, and to put your whole life on the line to speak up for the oppressed and endangered. You are going to have to build the courage to stand up for justice in the core of your life and take your place with other people who are fighting for a new world. (6/25)
Ponder these words of wisdom.