Friday, March 28, 2014

He Saw Your Face

So [Elisha] answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:16-17)

I often reflect on the crucifixion during my time each day with the Lord. Some time ago an image played in my mind, an image that has stayed very close to me since then.

From a distance, perhaps a football field away, I saw the Lord hanging by His hands and feet. His breathing was labored. He groaned each time He pushed against His feet and adjusted His position for what measure of comfort He could find as He hung there.

As I watched the scene unfold in my mind, I remembered the Lord's statement to Peter, after Peter drew his sword in the Gethsemane Garden: "Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53).

A Roman legion comprised of 6,000 soldiers. In essence, Jesus said to Peter, "I have, right now at my disposal, 72,000 heavily armed angelic soldiers who are within moments of swooping into this garden to save me."

As I watched the Lord suffer on the cross, I suddenly saw those legions. They appeared from nowhere and surrounded Golgotha. Each angelic warrior held a glistening sword at the ready. Their muscular bodies leaned forward in anxious anticipation, waiting for their Lord and King to simply look in their direction, nod His head -- and they would have overrun the jeering onlookers in an instant.

An instant.

But Jesus didn't look at the angels. Instead, I saw Him -- even though He was so far away in my mind's eye -- I saw Him as clearly as I see my own face in a mirror -- I saw Him looking at me.

Somehow, just as Satan could show Jesus, through a portal in eternity, all the kingdoms of the world "in a moment of time," in some way Jesus saw my face as he suffered on that cross.

And He saw your face.

In that moment, a truth I have always known became a little clearer to me. Those spikes did not hold Jesus to that wood. Seeing my face, seeing your face, kept Him there.

Seeing through the fabric of eternity our need for His embrace, seeing our hurts, our emptiness -- Jesus saw me and you as only He could see us.

That is what kept Him on that cross. Our faces -- the faces of you and me whom He loves so very dearly . . . who He longs, even now, as I write this and you read this, even now He longs to embrace us to His chest and whisper into our ear, "I love you."

No. Spikes did not hold our king.

Seeing our faces held Him there.

Friday, March 21, 2014

To Fix It

Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; 
They will behold a far-distant land. . .
and no resident will say, “I am sick.”
The people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.
(Isaiah 33:17 & 24)

Some say I’m a ‘pie in the sky” kind of guy.
As if that’s a bad thing.

But when I see or hear or read
or know from experience
the unspeakable horrors of life,
the unbridled and deepening moral depravity,
of death and bondage,
disease and destruction,
despair and desolation . . .
things over which I have no control.
things over which no one on earth has control –

Is it wrong to long
for the promises of God?
Promises like:

Your eyes will see the King in all of His beauty,
in all of His radiance,
in all of His
majestic, ineffable splendor;

Yet there is more.

Our eyes will behold that far-distant land
beyond space and time
and dreams and imaginings,
a place
where He wipes
all tears
all tears
all tears
and sorrow
and heartbreak
from our eyes.

Oh! It is not wrong to long
to be held in Daddy’s arms
and watch Him fix it.

Oh, come Lord Jesus.
Your people
need you so
to fix it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not About Me*

*For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:36).

            It's all about Jesus. Always has been. Always will be.

            It always should be.

            I ought to think of that before I start complaining about His business. Like the Mass, for example.

            My wife and I had hardly left the sanctuary one Sunday morning before I groused about the service. “I wish we’d sing modern choruses instead of centuries-old hymns . . . I thought the priest could have made a stronger point about that Gospel passage . . . I’d like it better if we knelt for prayer . . . I wonder why . . ."

            Then I noticed my emphasis: I wish. I thought. I’d like. I wonder. My problem became disturbingly clear: I think the Mass – even life, if I’m honest – is all about me.

            Well, it’s not. The Mass, and all we do before and after we come into His presence is about the One through whom all things were made ‑ heaven, earth, mountains, seas . . .  It’s about Jesus, through whom I receive reconciliation to the Father, forgiveness and redemption.

            For by Him all things were created,” wrote St. Paul, “both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. . . And in Him you have been made complete . . . having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 1:16; 2:10-12 NASB).

            I can't help but notice Scripture’s emphasis: By Christ; through Christ; for Christ; in Christ; with Christ.

            Not a thing in there about me.

            Perhaps if I entered the Eucharistic Celebration centered more on Him and less on me, I wouldn’t be so quick to grumble. If I cultivated a deeper relationship with Christ through the week, I wouldn't be bored with that holy hour on Sunday. If I meditated on the Mass readings before I left for church, the Holy Spirit might have more kindling to spark my passion for the Mass. If I entered the sanctuary early enough to pray, my heart would be ready to worship long before the Celebration began.

            When I focus on me, it's easy to find fault with the priest, the choir, the temperature, the baby crying in the back. When my focus is on Him – through whom all things were made – then all things fall into proper perspective.

*from my first book, We Believe: Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed -- which still needs to be revised according to the update translation

Friday, March 14, 2014


“This sickness is . . . for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

John 11:4


Lazarus was dead.
“If you’d been here,” Martha wept,
“You could have saved him.”
Live long enough
and life’s shadows
fall over us
full of loss
and sickness
and sadness
and heartache
and pain.
And I ask Him,
can He be glorified
by my shadows so dark
and desolate
and black
and oppressive?
If not, then Lord,
deliver me!
If yes, then Lord,
help me let you
be glorified
in them.