Friday, March 6, 2009
Sympathy for Weakness
"For we do not have a great high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15
I was recently at the lunch table with several students.The sun had finally come out and it was warming up. The sky was a brilliant blue and there was little wind. Everyone was feeling the promise of spring after being stuck inside with the most recent snowstorm. We chatted happily like school kids anticipating recess. In fact, spring break starts this weekend here, and it is evident that it is much anticipated all around. We all also have much work to do. They have papers to write and I have been working on a project about clergy families. I have much work to do and yet I was tempted to abandon it and take a long walk. I am an expert at stalling and procrastinating, especially when the weather is nice. We all laughed at ourselves for wanting to play hokey from our work.
We hear in Hebrews of the role of Jesus in fulfilling the prophets, of being a gift from God and the high priest who mediates on our behalf. There is great tenderness in the author of Hebrews, although wanting to establish the authority and lineage of Jesus, is also drawn to Christ's humanity. He is touched that God would send one like us, who is able to inhabit our pain, understand our grief, and who was challenged by living and dying. God is tender and loving, giving a child for us who suffered as we do. A perfect God with ultimate sympathy.
I pray that today I can be grateful for my humanity, for all my faults and frailties, for all my fears and shortcomings. It is what makes me human, and it is these failings that invites me into communion with others. Our sympathy for our common humanity is a great gift. And Jesus, who lived within our mortal flesh, continues to live with us, in the completeness and brokenness of our humanity. May we be grateful to day that Christ is with us, really with us in the flesh, and share our hearts and compassion with others.