The Daily Lenten Scandal

Back in 2014, as I prepared to transition out of ministry as an Australian vicar in my hometown of Brisbane, a member of the parish gave me a small book that’s made an indelible mark on life ever since.

Saint John of the Cross for Every Day is edited by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD. It contains brief, sentence or two, reflections for every day of the calendar year. Today, the 4th Sunday in Lent, I took a look at the small volume.

As I took it from its home in my car’s glove compartment, I turned to (what I thought was) the nominated reflection for the day–a quote from St. John:

“They are scandalized by the cross, in which spiritual delights are found.” [1]

Serendipitously, I had turned to April 27 rather than March 27. As these things sometimes go, God’s Spirit worked in and through this small oversight.

“They are scandalized by the cross, in which spiritual delights are found.” [1]

I wondered, how am I scandalized by the passion and death of the human said, by Christians, to be God.

In this–a human who dared to claim Divinity–is a scandal in itself. My Jewish and Muslim beloved in humanity may not feel the same. Jesus may be a prophet, a godly one, one full of wisdom. But the Divine life fully becoming a 1st-century human?

However, I then thought of my beloved friends in humanity who follow the various ways of Hinduism. For them, the Divine is made human in Vishnu, who also embodies the transcendent Higher Power as a fish, a turtle, and a pig. [2]

Here, God as Creator meets God’s Creation meets God’s incarnate (made human) one.

Could God give over every power, every privilege, every honor, everything that separates divinity and humanity?

Would God give over everything that separates the Creator from that which is Created?

This is the scandal of the cross: that God would be neglected, abused, and killed by humans hungry for power and position.

This is the mystery of the cross: that God would give up, put aside, and remove everything that keeps us from the fullness of Divine love.

During this Lent, this day, my hope and prayer are that I don’t do the same to God in those committed to my care;

>>> that we all can set aside that violence and rivalry and live in peace, harmony, love, and compassion with all creation and all living beings.

[1] Saint John of the Cross for Every Day, edited by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD. (Paulist Press, New York/Mahwah, 2007), p. 29.

[2] Vishnu, BBC Religion, 2009, https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/deities/vishnu.shtml (Accessed March 27, 2022)

Published by Christopher Golding

Australian ex-pat, vegan priest, spouse, and parent of two | School Chaplain of Seabury Hall, Maui, Hawai'i (All opinions my own)

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