The Weapon that Gives Life

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Last week we addressed academia’s focus on our guaranteed mortality. To counter that study in finality, we cited the gospel reading that forms the kernel of this week’s message:

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (Jn 12:20-33)

Treating that gospel reading academically doesn’t do it justice. It’s born of flesh and blood and dedicated to our spiritual immortality. But we must first remember Jesus was human, too, and feared what was about to cause his earthly death:

“I am troubled now.  Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.”

Part of that fear was whether his disciples were ready to carry on in his name. Were they weaned of their ignorance? To wean means:

“Becoming accustomed to managing without something on which one has depended.”

According to Paul’s letter to the Hebrews from which we read this Sunday, the teachers of his time still had a way to go before being ready to get off their traditional formulas and digest the meat of the Master’s new teachings:

“Although you should be teachers by this time, you need to have someone teach you again the basic elements of the utterances of God. You need milk, [and] not solid food. Everyone who lives on milk lacks experience of the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties are trained by practice to discern good and evil.” (Heb 5:7-14)

Quite a difference from the era envisioned by the Prophet Jeremiah in Sunday’s first reading. He must have expected God’s word to become subliminal in us sooner than it did. IF it ever did.

“I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” (Jer 31:31-34)

We must be able to recognize the evil that living in this world has written on our heart, and to discern it from God’s handwriting. Jesus’ prayer that his Father’s name of “I am” be glorified was heard, and, through rolling thunder, the Hearer reassured him that, through him, that name is glorified, and shall be again in human hearts. The answer to Jesus’ prayer came for our sake, Jesus tells us, in preparation for when “the ruler of this world” will be driven out.

Evil is the ruler, and evildoers are that ruler’s subjects. Jesus is the forgiveness that destroys evil’s power. I AM is the wielder of the weapon of forgiveness. So am I, and so are you. But forgiveness requires moral muscle. We must handle that weapon together and aim it at each other. Do we have the strength to pull the trigger?

–Tom Andel


  1. Forgiveness can be difficult but it is absolutely necessary. Holding on to someone else’s transgression against us only does damage to our own souls. The transgressor most likely doesn’t even know or care that we have been hurt, leaving us as the only ones affected. Forgiveness frees us from the bonds of anger and anxiety.

    • Our problem is self-righteous anger is like junk food: it tastes so good but is deadly in the long run. It’s also addictive over time. Forgiveness is a trigger best-pulled immediately!

  2. It takes great humility to follow the teaching of our Lord in the times we are in. It takes great fortitude to live the life that Christ died to give us in our day.

    We clearly don’t understand the mind of God, but his word and teachings handed down for us through his church shows us the way.

    Will we follow?

    • The ways of evil are many, and smoothly paved. They represent the paths of least resistance. God’s is the road less traveled. Finding it takes a lifetime-supply of courage.

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