The Very Reverend Todd Donatelli

Tuesday in Holy Week:  Vulnerability, Common Good, Death and Life

Posted By Todd Donatelli on April 11, 2017

John 12:20-36

Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—`Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”

After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

Author and columnist Thomas Friedman, on reflecting on decades of covering the Middle East and Washington, D.C., realized that with a few exceptions the dominant ideology in the Middle East was “I am weak, how can I compromise? I am strong, why should I compromise?” The notion of a common good, a middle ground, for which we make compromise, a higher communal call for which we work, was not in the vocabulary.  Eager to return to the U.S. in the late 80’s eager to rediscover America he observes the common good for which we work has been dissolving year after year in this country leaving us to resemble what he experienced in the Middle East.

Who really wants to lose their life? Who really wants to lose their understanding of messiah - of what saves? It is painful to lay down our understanding of what saves us religiously, politically, nationally, globally, personally. When Jesus hears of the Greeks coming to see him (the Greeks - the gentiles, the unwashed, the non-chosen), he sees God doing beyond what even he might have imagined; he sees a common good, a common call of God, that is overcoming the chosen lines of the religious establishment. He sees how God’s life and work are being recognized and lived into by those ‘outside’ while at the same time those who should be seeing are rising up to remove him. He is realizing that Greeks wishing to follow him are a double edged-sword: a sign of God’s vastness and more fuel for those who see him as a threat to their understandings.

If we wish to live we must die; die to what we think saves us, die to that with which we have bolstered our sense of being and safety. Jesus himself will become the vulnerable grain of wheat ‘even to the point of death’ if that is where fidelity with God and others leads. It is not Jesus’ death that God seeks, it is fidelity to God and to the world, to the common good, even if that fidelity threatens. 

To what do we need to die if we are to see Easter, if we are to be saved? To what common good are we being called? How might the Greeks of our time reveal the way?

Blessed Tuesday in Holy Week,
The Very Reverend Todd M. Donatelli, Dean of the Cathedral

Today’s Worship Service:

5:45 p.m. - Holy Eucharist for the Tuesday in Holy Week