by Laurie Gudim
Here’s the cliffnotes version of today’s Gospel reading. Jesus says, “I’m going to be killed.” A woman pours expensive oil on him to say, “He’s going to be killed.” The disciples ignore what both of them are saying and complain about the cost of the oil. Judas begins to look for a way to have Jesus killed.
If I were explaining to someone with no previous experience of Christianity why I am a follower of Jesus, I might choose this tale. We live closest to the divine energy that powers the cosmos when we are as vulnerable as Jesus is here. Not only is he vulnerable to the forces in the world who love power and money over human dignity, he puts himself at the mercy of clueless disciples, a nameless woman who affirms his understanding and leads him toward his destiny, and a follower who wants him dead. God God’s self is just this vulnerable.
The ego, that small tyrant who runs our lives most of the time, does not like to contemplate a God who encompasses both not being and being all in the same moment. It recognizes in Jesus its demise. The universe is huge, deep and mysterious, and when we know ourselves to be embedded in it fully we know also that identity is an illusion. We are one with all that is – one with Jesus, one with God, one with each other. As Rumi says, “I am you.”
Judas, the ego’s servant, hastens out to kill the voice that beckons us to understanding. But he cannot do it. It would be as easy to kill sunlight or the tide. He brings on the very event he fears most – the resurrection.
“So what?” the newby to Christianity might respond. “How is this important in my everyday life?”
In the person of the Son, God throws God’s self at our feet. God casts God’s self onto the ground where we are about to step – because we are so unfathomably beloved of God. We are. We are each precious beyond measure.
And here is the Christian understanding. There is a way that each one of us humans is called to do the same for one another. We are called to be stumbling blocks. The way each of us finds to do this will be our own unique path; it won’t look like anyone else’s. But we are meant to trip one another up, hurling both ourselves and our neighbors head first right into the arms of God. The world needs us desperately now. We are meant for love.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.