Let us provoke one another to love and good works_ (Hebrews 10:24)
Those words from today’s New Testament reading refuse to let go.
In the context of Good Friday with the Gospel reading from John 18:1-19:4, pulling back the curtain of time as it were, giving us a peek at the war between religious traditions and the love of God in Jesus, it is ever so easy to rail at Judas, Peter, Pilate and the others and somehow miss the challenge to us.
So, let the curtains fall back into place so that we’re back in our own time. What are you seeing; what are you sensing…what is God saying?
How often have we, in pursuit of noble_ traditions, inflicted the pain of rejection, condemning innocent ones, without even the benefit of a hearing?
How Jesus must sometimes sigh in anguished sorrow, at the hollow precision of rituals and traditions that are…nothing more.
Perhaps it is, pondering the fact that come Monday, we would have placed behind us the ‘solemnity’ of these days, and get back to the business of living, that the words of the writer of the letter to the Hebrews continue in a real sense, to haunt and challenge.
What does it mean to provoke? The dictionary suggests instigating, goading even pressuring, all with the negative objective of bringing someone down: of casting him/her into a dark and awful place.
In the letter to the Hebrews, however, the provocation enjoined is not towards such negative ends; on the contrary, it is towards a way of being that, rooted and grounded in love, issues in those good works that have the ripple effect of impacting many…
Perhaps that’s what Good Friday’s message is at its core; Jesus by His very nature, provoking those who crucified Him to look beyond the worst they could do to Him, and perceive that His motivation and objective lay in His love for His Father…and for them.
If our traditions and ritual acts this weekend, are to move beyond that, then we must truly embrace the spirit and challenge of provoking each other to love and good works. Mind you, such living may lead to the death of positions, possessions and even self but then, Jesus did warn that for anyone desirous of following Him, the cross is not optional cf. Matthew 16:24.
Contributed by: Canon Georgia Jervis