They gave me gall to eat;
and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink. (Ps. 69:23)
Sometimes I wonder at the Church’s obsession for getting the society around us to do what we want. We spend a lot of energy trying to get laws passed that guarantee our rights, that grant us certain privileges, that impose our ideals on others.
We don’t get that impulse from Jesus, whose words and actions led to his arrest, scourging, and crucifixion.
We don’t get it from Paul (much), since he positively glories in the hardships he has endured for the sake of the Gospel. “I will most gladly spend and be spent for you,” he writes in his second letter to the church in Corinth (2 Cor. 12:15).
In Canticle 10, appointed for this morning, we sing about God’s word, whom we would name Jesus:
So is my word which goes forth from my mouth;
it will not return to me empty.
But it will accomplish that which I have purposed,
and prosper in that for which I sent it. (BCP 87)
God’s purposes are accomplished precisely in the gall and vinegar, precisely in Jesus’ faithfulness to the way of the cross.
Why do we think it will be different for us? Why do we think in terms of legislating behavior instead of demonstrating faithfulness?
A Collect for Fridays
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 99)