Friday, November 25, 2011

at his left and at his right


Today's Gospel reading has the sons of Zebedee asking Jesus if can be at his right and left hand in his kingdom. In his answer to them, Jesus seems to reference his own death on the cross as he says it is not for him to sit at his right and his left.

Who was at his right and left when he was on the cross? The two thieves, of course. But his mother and the beloved disciple were there as well, and art commonly represents one to the left and one to the right. And we know Roman soldiers were there, at the foot of the cross gambling as he died, with one at his right as he thrust a spear into him. Not to mention those who gathered to jeer and mock.

The thought that occurs to me is that there were many at his left and right when he was on the cross: those who loved him, those who despised him, those caught up in their own suffering, & those who killed him.

In a sense, all human life is there. This is reflected in his words: 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.' Words that refer not to those who are physically there, but to all humanity, for whose sake he is being crucified. Perhaps that is why he says it is not for him to say who shall be on his left and his right. Because all are invited to stand at the foot of the cross and he will not give anyone precedence nor turn anyone away.

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