Friday, March 27, 2009

You Know Me, And You Know Where I'm From.

Jesus stayed in Galilee. He didn’t want to go to Judea, because the Leaders of the People were plotting to kill him. But Succoth was approaching. So, after the disciples had gone up to Jerusalem, he also went, but secretly.

Still, when Jesus arrived in the Holy City, people were saying, “Isn’t this the one they’re trying to kill? But now he’s speaking publicly, but no one is doing anything to stop him. Is it possible that the authorities think that he is the Messiah? But the Scriptures say that, when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he’s from; and we know where this man is from. Jesus, who was teaching in the Temple, cried out, “You know me, and you know where I’m from. I haven’t come on my own. I was sent by one who is true, and you don’t know him. I know him. He’s the one who sent me.” Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. (John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30)

Succoth, the Feast of Tents, is the third and last of the great Pilgrimage Feasts celebrated by the Jews. It occurs in early fall, late September or early October, according to the secular calendar. It is believed to have originated as a memorial to the forty years when the Hebrews wanted homeless through the desert, living in tents. It is a reminder that they once had no homeland, and no home. For nomads, the only home they have is a tent.

But, ever since their journey from Egypt ended in the fertile land west of the Jordan, the Jews have had a home. And, even though it had been many centuries since the Exodus, they identified themselves not according to the place where they lived, but according to their birthplace, just as the nomads do: Jesus of Nazareth, Mary of Magdala, Joseph of Arimathea.

“We know where you’re from,” they said. “You’re the carpenter’s from Nazareth. But they really don’t know him at all. Nazareth is not the place where he was born, but the place where he grew up, after he and Mary and Joseph returned from exile in Egypt. For that matter, Jesus is not “of Bethlehem”, either. Jesus actually tells the truth about his origins, “I am from him who sent me”, he says. But they still don’t understand: He is from the Father.

Saint Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt, wrote, “God became man, so that man might become God.” If we want to come to the Father, Jesus is the Way. If we seek to know the Father, Jesus is the Truth. If we want to spend eternity with the Father, Jesus is the Life.

Saint Augustine explains: “In God alone can we find blessedness, but we cannot see God. But in following Christ, whom we can see, we rise from the contemplation of Christ-man to Christ-God, and so to the Father, with whom Christ is one in his divinity. Cling to Christ, then, with all the strength of your will, all the understanding of your mind, all the love of your heart.”

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