We are not good at respecting zebra crossings for people on foot. In our part of the world they are often blurred and hard to see. But in some countries, they are strictly observed.
Someone caught on camera a swan using a zebra crossing! The astonishing clip shows one swan, then another, sedately waddling its way across the road while all the traffic stops. Finally a third swan appears with 10 baby cygnets in tow. The clip went viral, as they say, as everyone feels the urge to share something uplifting.
Ignatius of Loyola writes in his Spiritual Exercises that, ‘love consists in a mutual sharing of goods, for example, the lover … shares with the beloved … something of what he has or is able to give.’ We can ponder those words, ‘is able to give.’ God has longed, from the beginning of creation, to share his life with us but he was not able to do it in years long passed. People simply did not have the capacity to receive the life he wanted to share with them.
So he began by working through signs. In the book of Exodus, Moses scatters the blood of bullocks over the people as a sign of their belonging to the Covenant, the first step in building a relationship between God and his people – a step they could understand. Then, in the letter to the Hebrews, the writer tells us all those signs are now fulfilled. Jesus has ‘poured out’ his own blood in a sacrifice that touches the very heart of what it is to be human. Life is the greatest gift we enjoy; it enables all else. To freely give this life, to ‘lose’ it, is the greatest thing we can do. The Israelites could not have been expected to understand this though they must have pondered what Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac meant. But we can understand, or begin to understand.
Giving one’s life is life giving. I have just been reading of one of our Jesuits, Gregor Richert, who for eleven years sought every way – educational (the out schools), economic (cotton growing), leadership training and pastoral – to fulfil his mission in Makonde. Finally, armed men (it was war time) entered the mission and shot him and his companion, Bernhard Lisson, dead. The mission was abandoned and partly vandalised. Today it is a flourishing centre on the bank of the Mupfure River.
All of this is brought together in that act of Jesus when he took bread into his hands and said, ‘this is my body for you’, and wine, ‘this is my blood poured out for you.’ The Israelites in the desert would never have grasped this and many today also ‘pass by on the other side.’ But Jesus insists. ‘Do this in memory of me.’ This is life to the full and, ‘it is to the glory of my Father that you bear much fruit.’
6 June 2021 Corpus Christi Exod 24:3-8 Heb 9:11-15 Mark 14:12…26