THE PRE-EASTER JESUS: A NEW FACE OF GOD
Everyone knows that God does not have faces. However, even without a face we talk to him, we tell him what we want and how grateful we are, we seek him out in good times and bad, we tell him our plans and he gives us his, we work with him, we listen to him, we try to think about him, we fail him and express sorrow or we please him and feel joy in his presence. The better we get to know him the more we adjust our lives together with him. In other words we relate to him despite the mysterious and unsettling differences between us.
My 23 year old daughter explaining why she hadn’t visited her mother and me recently mentioned her work, her classes in the university, and finally blurted out that she was maintaining a relationship. A millennial’s way of saying she has a boyfriend tells us a lot, real love has to be maintained, that is to develop, to have give-and-take over time in happy moments and not so happy ones; there has to be a relationship.
For some people it’s not that easy to begin a relationship with God, much less make it grow. And it appears from the Saints that the more it grows, the more the God-seeker becomes confused and lost. After all we are finite and very limited by our material make up within a fixed time and place dimension. God on the other hand is the infinite continuing creator of the universe including big bang, evolution, and millions of years of guiding this universe of ours. But he/she did send Jesus to show us the “way,” which is really the only way, even when not consciously realized. (See By What Authority by Richard Gaillardetz, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, p.5).
A renewed vision of the “way” in fairly recent times through reliable biblical scholarship has awakened to God with a new human face, referred to by the specialists as the Pre-Easter Jesus. A NEW FACE can be seen in an emphasis on his “way” which is portrayed to spiritually hungry followers as a Jewish mystic, healer, wisdom teacher, and prophet of the kingdom of God. The “way” proclaims the immediacy of access to Jesus’ Father God and his Kingdom; in showing us a newly emphasized and different way of serving and getting to God he challenged the dehumanizing Roman domination system of his time which depended on a cliental Jewish counterpart. He was executed by that authority, and then vindicated by his Father through his resurrection.
If we don’t give the proper priority to the centering of Jesus’ life in prayer and his complete absorption in the commitment of his Father to the created world, we run the risk of failing to grasp the impassioned love in the new picture of the Jesus that God revealed to us as his human face. Practicing Jesus’ “way” is about living our relationship to what is the sacred, his Father(and Mother too), making the covenant a special part of our life in a relationship with Jesus who is God’s revelation to us. It means contemplating and engaging the Pre-Easter Jesus revealing his Father’s passion for justice and peace and pleading for our answer to his call to rescue the victims of violence and injustice. The Vatican Council II discussed and adopted this basis for a relationship with God.