John the Baptizer is revered not only in Christianity but also in Islam, the Bahai’ faith and other religions. Why is he so important? I think the official answer to that is because he announced the One who would come after him. In that sense he was not a follower of Christ, but had more faith and trust than Jesus ever asked of his disciples.
The simple meal that Jesus hosted with his disciples on the night before he died was packed with symbolism and meaning and divine love.
Our tradition holds that God is “agape,” i.e. love in the sense of self-gift. The tradition, e.g. 1 John 4:8 & 16, says that God is love (‘agape’), not that God is “one who loves.” “Love” is not the name of a person. It’s the name of a relationship between three persons. God is “Love.” God is the loving community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
As a young student of theology I remember trying to grasp and make something practical of the Church’s teaching that the Holy Spirit was ‘the love between the Father and the Son.’ The doctrine felt dry and academic, and I used to wonder why there were big bitter fights over it in early Christianity.
‘If I had ever met someone who was a genuine Christian, I would have become one immediately’ – Gandhi.
We live in a world of tit for tat. The rhythm of history is one of hurt, resentment and revenge. Efforts at peace have been, in the larger picture of history, ineffective. Forgiveness has always been in short supply, extremely difficult and short-term. Fake.
Over the weekend I revisited Viktor Frankl’s little classic, “Man’s Search for Meaning”. Brian Keenan, who spent nearly five years as a hostage to terrorism in Beirut, called it ‘a hymn to the phoenix rising in each of us who choose life before flight.’ It’s Frankl’s formula for survival drawn from his horrific experiences in the Auschwitz death camp during WW2
This time of year, between Christmas and Lent, the gospels show us Jesus ‘going public’. There’s excitement in the air. He has good news: cripples are healed, the blind see, the sick and the great unwashed are given new hope and something better to live for.