Fr. Allen, 3/24/15


Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.

The conversion of Clovis, King of the Franks, and his baptism in 496 was a decisive moment in the evangelization of Europe.  There is a legend about the conversion of Clovis. On first being told of the Crucifixion, he exclaimed: “would that I had been there to destroy all of Christ’s persecutors.” A little later he changed his mind and said: “would that I had been there at the foot of Cross to defend my Lord”. But at the time of his baptism, looking at a Crucifix, he said: “ah, that I had been there to die with my Savior”. It is only legend but it is the  pattern of the conversion  of hearts and minds in Holy Week, the pattern of every conversion: from retaliation and defense to dying.

“Would that I had been there to destroy all of Christ’s persecutors.” One thing that is made clear in the passion narratives of all four gospels is that the persecutors of Jesus include his followers. First the disciples fall asleep when they should have watched and prayed – a dozing that will continue throughout the history of the Church. Then the open betrayal for the sake of material gain, a betrayal that takes place with Jesus’ full knowledge; nor is it a betrayal confined to a single disciple, but it included the denials of the very Rock, upon which the Church is to be built. All the others simply disappear. That the betrayal takes place with a kiss will often be repeated. His people, the chosen people reject their Messiah and hand him over to the Gentiles and choose Barabbas. Those who would destroy the persecutors of Christ must destroy themselves. Then and now. It is the one thing that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions: as much as Christians may have ignored the truth: there is no possible justification for violence against our enemies for we are ourselves the enemy. 

“Would that I had been there at the foot of Cross to defend my Lord”. The problem with that is that Jesus does not want us to protect him because he goes to his death freely: for this he has come into the world.  He does need us to protect him “Do you not know that I can pray to my Father, and he shall give me more than twelve legions of angels? He who ate with sinners also dies with them and for them.  When Peter cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest, Jesus says to him: “put away your sword. Shall I not I drink the cup which the Father has given me?” In a culture hostile to Christianity, we are anxious to defend Jesus, to be as were, the attorney for the defense. But when the high priest accuses Jesus, “he answered nothing”.   Pilate asks Jesus, “how many things they witness against thee”. But Jesus answered nothing.  We cannot save Jesus but only be saved by him. So says the Lord:
“there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other”.

“Ah, that I had been there to die with my Savior”. We might think that Jesus was a man whose options were quickly running out. But Jesus is the only person in the story who has options. We are the ones whose options have run out. On the one side, there is betrayal and denial; on the other, to die with him. What can that mean? Neither more, nor less, than what St. Paul tells us in Epistle: “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” Emptied that Jesus alone may fill.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
Comments