The Gospels portray Jesus in a broad variety of situations, each of which reveals a feature of his character and person. He himself on occasion speaks of some characteristic that he draws attention to so that his followers might give attention to cultivating that particular disposition in their own lives and strive to reproduce it in their character. For instance, on one occasion he made this important declaration: “Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Mt.11:25) Other features, however, he displayed in action without formulating any verbal statement calculated to draw attention to them; he knew the underlying dispositions involved would speak for themselves. An exemplary instance of this kind of implicit teaching is his response to Pilate, the Roman governor who felt scorned by our Lord’s silence. When Pilate reminded him saying: Surely you know I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you.” Jesus answered with the bold courage that he displayed consistently in treating with persons in power: “You would have no power over me if it were not give you from above.” (John 30, 31).

Another attribute that he similarly left to be recognized by his followers though he did not explicitly use the word is his strong sense of worth that expressed itself in the dignity of his bearing in all circumstances. Though he felt no need to call attention to this strong sense of worth by speaking of it in explicit terms, yet any number of his statements and sayings make it clear that he was keenly aware of possessing a firmly rooted sense of unique worth that conferred on him a dignity that he consistently displayed, even under the humiliating circumstances of his passion. One striking incident that reveals the extraordinary awareness of his dignity is depicted in his interview with the High Priest during his trial. Obviously our Lord considered the proceedings a mockery of justice. Accordingly, he would not participate actively in the affair to the point of refusing to speak when false witness was admitted by the court. Even when the High Priest in exasperation accosted him directly saying “Have you no answer to make?” Jesus, the evangelist tells us, “remained silent and made no answer.” However, when adjured to declare if he was the Messiah, He boldly affirmed his identity in terms that claimed an even greater dignity: “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” The High Priest rightly understood that these words were a claim to be equal to the Lord God, and so condemned him for blasphemy. (Mark14:60)

In today’s Gospel we are provided with a saying of our Lord that assures us of possessing the basis for an inflexible sense of personal dignity.  “THOSE WHO ACCEPT THE WORD OF GOD AND PUT IT INTO PRACTICE ANRE MY MOTHER AND BROTHERS.” He intends this spontaneous declaration to encourage us to be confident that we who put our faith in his word and live by it are members of his family. No earthly status or achievement is comparable in worth; our living faith confers on us a dignity that surpasses any honor this world can bestow for already it is rewarded with the intimate bonds that unite us with the persons of the Son of God. If our Lord makes such a generous and bold assertion it is surely because he wishes to give us firm confidence that allows us to make our life a witness to his generous love. At this Eucharist he not only reaffirms this truth of his welcoming us as members of his family but also gives us further assurance of his intimate friendship. With confidence, then, may be strengthened in spirit and by our daily fidelity to his teaching and example, prove worthy of the dignity of the children of God, faithful members of his household. Ω

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

Back to INDEX