Greetings! For Terri and I, this Lent and Holy Week has been extraordinary in so many ways: the beauty of the carpets and processions, the dedication of so many people in planning and participation, and the crowds of people. What a preparation for Easter! I look forward to celebrating Easter with you tomorrow at 10am in the Convento.
This afternoon, Justin and his students will walk the Stations from San Francisco to El Calvario, gathering at 3:15pm. Terri and I will join them. Any others from the St. Alban community who would like to participate can meet the group at San Francisco at the above time. We'll be joining thousands of people walking the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and churches throughout the world during Lent and especially during Holy Week.
God Bless everyone! John+ and Terri too!
Yesterday I preached the following Good Friday sermon at the Episcopal parish of Santiago de Jerusalen in Chimaltenango. Here is the English version:
Good Friday Sermon, Chimaltenango
"I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly." As we gather at the Cross today we remember that Jesus gave his life for the life of the world. When we say these things, we can ask ourselves what is the "life" Jesus is talking about? Is it the "good life" that money can buy? Is Jesus speaking about living a "long life" that lasts many years? I don't think so. Most people just have enough money to live on day by day, and we all know many people die before they are old. What is the life that Jesus wants to give us abundantly? It is a life where all people live as brothers and sisters, children of Our Father in heaven.
No other religion in the whole world understands God as a Father, Creator of one human family. Jesus taught us to pray to God as Our Father. Did Jesus mean that God was Father of only Christians? I don't think so. I think Jesus wanted all people to remember that whatever race, faith, or place they come from, all people are sisters and brothers in the human family. This is very important, because if we acknowledge that God is our Father, then we will live in this world and think about this world differently. This means that we would never want to hurt other people because they truly are our brothers and sisters, whether near or thousands of miles away, Our Father is their Father too.
So as we witness Jesus die on the Cross to give us Life abundantly, forgiving those who put Him on that Cross, we can understand how much he hoped we would live in love for one another, free from jealousy, greed, and violence, even from those who hurt us.
Jesus, the Son who revealed the Father, is the very best person to teach us this. Jesus suffered the violence of the crowd, really including all of us, who, at one time or another have joined with others to call for the death of some unfortunate person. Rather than seeing others as our sisters and brothers and showing them mercy and forgiveness, we have sometimes considered them our enemies and been happy when others joined with us in condemning them. We forget that Jesus taught us to love our enemies.
We must be clear on this: Because we are God's children, God loves us even when we have been disobedient or unloving to one another. Jesus looks down on us and says "Forgive them for they know not what they do." God is Love. God, his Father, didn't send Jesus to die for us to make us lovable to God. We, and everyone else, have been loved by God from the first moment of our existence. God loves us just like any mother or father loves their children even when they make mistakes or are unloving to others. All people in this world, brought into being by God, are works in progress. Parents love their children until they change for the better, and even if they don't.
Today, as we remember Jesus' death on the Cross, we think of his great example in showing us that it is possible to love one another, even our enemies. Because of his example, and the Holy Spirit's help, we can show mercy to others who hurt us and live in peace wih everyone. This is the life that Jesus gives to the world today.
The world, all of us, still have a long way to go to fully receive this "New Life" that Jesus brings us. But his Life is slowly taking root in the world. Each time we receive Holy Communion Jesus nourishes this Life within us. Every time we hear the Gospel of Jesus preached and Jesus' teaching explained, the Life is strengthened in each one of us to be shared in our daily lives.
Jesus died on the cross that we might live a new Life here and now. Heaven begins, not when we die, but when we allow God's will to be done here on earth as it is in Heaven. Don't wait. Live this life of mercy now. The Holy Spirit will help us!