The mother had just got off the phone with her son, in tears of relief. The son had gone AWOL over-night, and he’d never done that before. He was too old for a curfew now, she knew, but he was generally home before midnight, anyway. And, if something unexpected came up, he usually called, which made it all the more worrisome this time. Maybe he just had a new love interest, or maybe he was in trouble. She was thinking the worst, couldn’t sleep, swinging back and forth between rage and denial! How many of us have been there, either as a parent or a child before!
Finally he did call in the wee hours of the morning, and she was relieved he was safe. He had gone with a friend to help him move his stuff out of his old apartment, to his new place. Only, the friend didn’t tell him the reason he was moving was because he was trying to get out of the gang he just got involved with. The friend’s cousin at the apartment was also in the gang, and when he saw what was going down, he called his homie’s – you can’t just quit your gang. And even though the friend packed in a hurry, just as they were driving away, the gang’s enforcers were coming down the block at the same time. And spotting them, they started shooting. The back window was hit and shattered, but otherwise the son and his friend made their get-a-way. When they were out of the hood, he finally called his mom, who was upset about her car – but happy to hear from him, considering! She would “give him a piece of her mind,” when he came home, but first she’d give him a big hug, because, he was alive, after all!
Paul writes in our 2nd reading from Philippians, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…” Paul knows, Jesus wants to give us a piece of his mind. He has a right to be frustrated and angry with us, but what he really desires for us, is all to be one, united in him, in the mind of Christ, to turn and transform us into, a people of faith, who serve others – like Jesus, who “emptied himself,” as a “humble” servant, “becoming obedient to the point of death…” Jesus wants to give us a piece of his mind, but first he gives us a big hug – the gift of life!
Many of you, I know, have been taking time in the Lenten Prayer Area, and trying the spiritual exercise of “Letting Go.” This is an exercise that is not to be taken lightly. Jesus, too, had to let go, or “humble” himself, as he went to the cross not knowing, but trusting, that his disciples would be his Body in the world, when he was gone. Trusting that they would find and accept “the piece of mind” he was offering.
And it’s not like Jesus was a passive push-over, in letting go. He didn’t, close his eyes and make a wish, that God would take care of everything. Jesus first did everything in his power, applying all his talents, engaging the world in healing, teaching, being prophetic in his preaching, and enacting his message in signs and miracles. It was a risky venture – this trusting. A typical example is when Peter, with great passion, confessed Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, but then took issue with Jesus, that this meant he would have to suffer and die – for that Jesus rebuked him in the strongest possible way! The disciples kept struggling to get it. And so, even at the Last Supper, having lovingly prepared the Passover meal, Peter and the 12 again misunderstand the Passion. And, in the Courtyard, Peter’s third denial, just as Jesus predicted before the cock crowed twice, is heartbreaking, “I do not know this man you are talking about,” and I guess that sums it up – he doesn’t yet know Jesus as the one who, became our servant, who humbled himself, and became the Lamb of God, to forgive the sin of the whole world.
Yet still, Jesus lets go of trying to control Peter and the 12, and stays focused on the mission God calls him to, one of faith and trust. Was Jesus angry with the disciples? Is Christ ever angry with us? “Let the same mind be in [all of] you that was in Christ Jesus.” Jesus wants to give us “a piece of his mind” – and no doubt we deserve it at times! But instead of forcing, controlling or berating us, even as he was so treated, he gives us, the peace which passes all understanding, the gift of freedom and grace, to turn and live a new life in him, the way of trusting one another, by staying focused on our mission.
Wherever there is lack of trust, an abuse of power, a failure to live as a servant, sin and brokenness enter in, and disrupt the life and growth in the Spirit we need for a healthy society, a healthy church, a healthy neighborhood. Jesus had to let go, and trust – trust the 12 disciples, the many women followers from Galilee who were at the cross, and the untold others Jesus touched along the way. Jesus gives us “a piece of his mind,” which unites us in faith, love and forgiveness, which forms us as a community of servants, the true power of God, we find hidden in the cross.
In his passion – in his loving act of trust in God, and in us – Jesus gives us “a piece of his mind”. And what that looks like, is the picture of a mother embracing her son, who risked his life for his friend, and, came back to tell about it.