On the Way to THE CRUX. Reflections on Jesus’ Journey to the Cross
WEEK ONE: Rethinking Our Concept of Being a Neighbor and our Treatment of Jesus.
The Lenten season has started. It is a season of forty days, except Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. The term lent comes from Middle English lenten, which means “spring.” Lent is a period of preparation and fasting likely has been observed before the Easter festival since apostolic times, though the practice was not formalized until the First Council of Nicea in 325 CE. (www.britanica.com) The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
Though the season is not formally observed in many Evangelical or nondenominational churches, it is still, the best season to reflect on Jesus’ journey to the Cross. I invite you to reflect with me in this series entitled “On the Way to THE CRUX. Reflections on Jesus’ Journey to the Cross.” The title uses the Latin term ‘crux’ which refers literally to an instrument of torture, often a cross or stake, and figuratively to the torture and misery inflicted by means of such an instrument. (www.merriam-webster.com)
This series will follows St. Luke’s account of Jesus’ long travel to Jerusalem narrative in Luke 9:51-19:44. However, only selected passages will be taken up. (For the background of the ‘Journey to Jerusalem’ narrative, please visit Journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-19:44) @ biblegateway.com ) This week’s reflection is entitled “Rethinking Our Concept of Being a Neighbor and our Treatment of Jesus” taken from the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and Jesus’ visit to the house of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42).
Rethinking Our Concept of Being a Neighbor
Read: Luke 10:25-37
Jesus had been rejected by the Samaritans in Luke 9:51-53, thus we can view it as a challenge to the disciples’ impression of the Samaritans, especially on the part of James and John (vv. 53-55). Jews and Samaritans do not deal with each other. They were not on speaking terms.
When a lawyer sets up a trap on Jesus, he engaged him and turned the table on him. He asked Jesus about the requisites for acquiring eternal life. Jesus’ answer forced him to recite the Shema (Deut. 6:3; 11:13) and Lev. 19:18 (“love of neighbor”), and was challenged to do it. Not willing to give up so easily, the lawyer responded by asking another question, “Who is my neighbor?” (v. 29). Jews held that only their fellow Jews should be regarded as neighbor. Jesus replied by way of a parable then compelled the lawyer to answer his own question. The neighbor was the one who showed mercy. That ‘one’ was a Samaritan! By doing so, Jesus has not only wittily thrown the lawyer into his own trap but was successfully elevated the Samaritan’s reputation thus, challenging the disciples attitude towards them.
While the Hebrews limit their concept of neighbor to “any member of the Hebrew nation” (Strong-Lite), Christ brings that concept to a higher and wider application to include “any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet” (Ibid).
In the Filipino Standard Version of the New Testament, the word neighbor is translated ‘kapwa’. In Filipino psychology, ‘kapwa’ is the unity of self and others or shared-self” [pakikipagkapwa] (Virgilio Enriquez as quoted by Jeremiah Reyes). The “I” or ego opens up to others including strangers. ‘Kapwa’ is togetherness. It does not give importance to social status or skin color or connections. Filipinos see themselves in others. Enriquez adds, “The ako (ego) and the iba-sa-akin (others) are one and the same in kapwa psychology: Hindi ako iba sa aking kapwa (I am no different from others) (Ibid).”
We can be a neighbor to ANYONE not just those who belong to our family or nation but especially those who are in need, yes even to our enemies because we see ourselves in them.
Question for Reflection:
Can you think of ways on how to be a neighbor to somebody this week?
Rethinking our Treatment of Jesus
Read: Luke 10:38-42
After Jesus’ encounter with the lawyer, he went to the house of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, at a village in Bethany just outside of Jerusalem. He probably needed some time to relax, get away from the crowd and have a stress free conversation. Upon entering their house, Mary immediately sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his teachings.
Her sister Martha, on the other hand, occupied herself preparing for the refreshment or probably a lavish meal for Jesus and his entourage. By this time Jesus’ followers have probably grown from twelve to seventy (Luke 9:1-10:24). You can just imagine how Martha must have felt being visited by such a crowd. She even called the attention of Jesus and demanded that he tell Mary to help her out. Jesus rebuked her by saying that Mary has chosen the “good part.” Not that Martha’s deeds were bad, but it lacked something.
From verse 40 we can see that Martha was ‘distracted with all the preparations’. The Greek for ‘distraction’ is περισπάō (perispao) which means “to draw around or to distract” or to drag around.” (Strong-Lite). Martha was going around (circles). She was distracted and therefore missed the opportunity to spend quality time with Jesus. While Mary has chosen the άγαθός (good) part (Strong-Lite), the beneficial portion. This is not about good in opposition to bad but of two good ways of treating or handling Jesus’ presence.
The distinction between these two ‘good ways’, is found in verse 42, “Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” The good part which Mary has chosen “shall not be taken away from her”. Martha’s treatment of Jesus was good but lacked eternal value.
Actually, we need both Marys and Marthas. Just find the balance!
Questions for Reflection:
Think of how you have treated Jesus and his presence in your life for the past few months or weeks. What are the things that prevent you from spending quality time with Jesus?
What are the ways you can do to balance your serving and spending time with the Lord and His Word, the Bible?
Bible Gateway: www.biblegateway.com
Jeremiah Reyes (2015) Loób and Kapwa: An Introduction to a Filipino VirtueEthics, Asian Philosophy, 25:2, 148-171, DOI: 10.1080/09552367.2015.1043173
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