Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter

Lectionary: 275


Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.




As I understand, it was the great philosopher Immanuel Kant who spelled out "duty" as the prime directive for good behavior. A wife, a husband, a son or daughter, an employee, employer, civil servant, soldier: whoever you might be you understand your duties and you carry them out. If you do so, you are a good person. Your duties may be determined by someone who has defined your position, as an employer defines the job description or a ruler describes the bureaucrat's responsibilities. Or, if you live in a more enlightened era, you may co-create that job description in dialogue with your open-minded superior.
These jobs are designed to fit the mission of the company, which word implies the companionship of others. "We work together, each one knowing her or his responsibility. Working together, our company is as efficient as a well-tuned machine."
Immanuel Kant lived in the age when clock makers and other clever individuals were developing sophisticated machines, some with hundreds of parts, all of them working with astonishing accuracy and efficiency.
These fascinating devices became a paradigm for existence itself. People supposed the atmosphere works like a weather machine, as do the waves and the tides and ocean currents. The solar system with all it's subsystems -- the moons around planets -- was also a machine. Perhaps the human body is a machine! Governments, businesses and armies can work like machines. Our homes, stores and factories are machines with plumbing, electrical and ventilation systems.
God fits into this marvelous mechanical universe because he built it all, like a fine tuned watch -- and then left it to run on itself without divine interference. In fact, it works better without divine interference! Being God he built it perfectly, why would he mess with perfection?
Eventually someone would wonder why God exists at all. Do we need a clock maker to explain the mechanics of this mute universe? Perhaps it just happened this way, because there was no other way it could happen.
Long before Kant and our fascination with machines, there was Jesus the obedient Son of God. He did his duty, one can argue. But what drove him to it? Was it the desire to be a good son? Was it the fear of being a bad son? How often do we perform our duties out of ambition or fear; which is to say, to win rewards or avoid punishment? That is, to serve ourselves.
The Savior I meet in the liturgy and scripture loved his God intensely and was driven -- empowered -- by his love. He wanted to give glory to the Father without thought of himself.
“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
Jesus has been called a company man but I understand him as a Son. He doesn't function as a cog in a machine; rather, he acts like One who loves and is loved.
His Church certainly does not function like a fine-tuned instrument! Its members, clergy and laity, may suffer disappointment and discouragement but we are not demoralized like a defeated army. In fact, the Holy Spirit impels us through adversity and we seem to find our bearings better when we're challenged. If we are a company it's more like companionship than corporation -- although the latter word also has etymological roots in the human body, the corpus.
We cannot function as cogs in a machine or pawns on a chessboard. We know whom we love and serve; he does not call us slaves but friends. Our company is that of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; of Blessed Mary and all the saints and angels.
The Church today challenges a world with its mechanical paradigm that would use, abuse and discard human beings like the waste products of the industrial age. We treasure every human being, born and unborn, young and old, of every ability and innumerable needs as the very image of Our Beloved. We do so with the very obedience of Jesus.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.