27 May 2015
The man lay in his hospital bed. The beeps of the machines broke the tension. The quiet murmur of nurses and doctors going about their business in the hallway was both comforting and not. The man’s family was there, his wife and three grown children. There, on his deathbed, he tried to pass along the clarity of vision he’d had.
There, at the end of his life, he finally discovered what was important—and it’d been important all along. He just hadn’t really seen it until then. But knowing where he was going, and accepting it, his priorities got straightened out. It wasn’t too late. But he wished he’d see it earlier in life.
Perhaps the disciples thought that after Pentecost, after they finally understood what Jesus was talking about. Their life wasn’t about who was in charge. It wasn’t about who offended who. It wasn’t about trying to upstage anybody or even about be the best at what they did. It was about sacrifice and service. It was about a way of life which has God as its center, and everything else as a reflection of God.
At some point, the disciples had their moment of clarity. Then they knew what their life as Christians was all about. And that’s what we pray for, if we’re oriented enough toward God and the Cross to think about it. We pray for clarity: “Lead us not into temptation,” the temptation to hold onto grudges—even justified grudges—rather than to extend the mercy of God. Lead us not into the temptation to be too busy doing the Lord’s work to actually sit and be with the Lord.
Lead us not into the temptation to measure success in worldly terms rather than by the measure of our love for God and one another. It’s so easy for us to hear Jesus speak to us, to come and worship, and yet, to be on an entirely different page than Jesus.
Jesus tells us again and again about the reality of the Cross, the reality of divine mercy, the love of God, and so many other truly important things. He’ll keep telling us to serve and to love. And he’ll keep telling us and showing us until, someday, it’ll stick. Someday the reality of the Cross and the demands of our discipleship will become clear. And it won’t come too late.
But when it comes, all we need to do is give ourselves over to it. The Cross brings us clarity about what’s really important. And that’s what we give ourselves to: the Cross and the Way of Christ.