In this Season of Lent, we follow Jesus through the turns in his road to Jerusalem. We try even when we know that the gospels state that all his friends, one by one, abandoned him. In the end he goes to the cross alone. He does that for us. Facing the death alone he still thinks about us and prays for us. In the Gospel according to John, Jesus concludes his last minute discourse with his disciples with these words:
“The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16::32-33). Then he prays for them a long prayer that takes up the whole of the 17th chapter of John’s Gospel.
That prayer is for us too, whom Jesus sends into the world as God has sent him into the world (v. 18) to witness, to be the sign, even when we too falter and scatter, do not believe the way of the cross, the way of the Magnificent Defeat as Frederick Buechner calls it, is the Way.
“The love for equals is a human thing—of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles.
The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing—the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world.
The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing—to love whose who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints.
And then there is the love for the enemy—love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love, It conquers the world.” (Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat, SanFranciosco: Harper & Row, 1985, p. 105)
Let us probe that Love. Walk with me, Jesus invites us.