“It is not power but love that redeems us!” said Pope Benedict XVI in his inaugural sermon on April 24, 2005. The famous hymn in the Letter to the Philippians presents Jesus as the exemplar of this principle. Rather than succumbing to worldly ambition, Jesus, although he was divine, “did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited” (2:6). Instead, he “emptied himself, taking on the form of a slave,” and “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death” (2:7-8). It was through this humility that Jesus rose to new life in the resurrection.
Water is often used as a symbol of the Spirit of God. On a physical level, our lives depend on water, and we are surrounded and formed by water; on a spiritual level, our lives depend on God. Images of water as a symbol of renewal and a reminder of thirst, both physical and spiritual, are plentiful throughout the Bible. In the Book of Genesis we read that “a wind from God swept over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). The psalms compare the desire humans have for God to the way “a deer longs for flowing streams” (Psalms 42:1). Jesus, too, expressed his thirst as he was dying on the cross.
It often seems that crucifixion looms larger than resurrection in our world. It is true that, as the poet Jan Richardson writes, “the world is always ending somewhere.” People die, people suffer injustices and illnesses, hurricanes rage, and earthquakes rumble, and sometimes these tragedies seem constant. It would be foolish to shrug away the reality of tragedies and injustices—Jesus himself didn’t. In fact, in Jesus’ experience on the cross he identified with human suffering. But the story does not end there. The story ends in resurrection and ascension. Jesus points to the light of resurrection and the glory of ascension.
Tags: Change Our Hearts