May 10, 2020
The Fifth Sunday of Easter
(Acts 6:1-7; John 14:1-12)
In the Talmud, the writings of the rabbis, there is inscribed a reference to a scarlet cord. At the time of the second Temple, on the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, a scarlet cord was tied to the Temple doors. When the requirements for the Day of Atonement were completed, it is said that the cord would turn from scarlet to white.
Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
It is said to have taken place every year. The phenomenon or miracle would occur every year to signify that the atonement had been completed and accepted.
The Talmud indicates that something changed in the first century AD. The cord abruptly stops changing. Certainly, this must have been unsettling. Had Adonai (God) stopped accepting their acts of atonement? Although this is where Jewish and Christian theology and thought take separate roads. I am sure that they thought that God had stopped accepting the acts of atonement for some reason, but they may have questioned why.
In human history, let’s face it, we have not always lived as God would want us to, and He would intervene in various ways. Often times He would send a prophet or leader that would help lead us back on the correct path. So, what was it this time that has caused Him to stop changing the cord from scarlet to white?
From a Christian perspective, we tend to believe it wasn’t because He stopped accepting the acts of atonement, but merely that they were no longer needed. The final atonement had been offered up. The final sacrifice for sin.
Now another interesting piece to this is when the cord stopped changing. The Talmud records it as being about 40 years before the destruction of the Temple. The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Therefore, the cord stopped changing about 30 AD! The same time frame Christians place Jesus’ death on the cross!
Jesus’ death on the cross was the final Atonement for all people. The book of Hebrews explains that we are no longer saved by the sacrifices of the Temple or the Day of Atonement, but by the death of Christ Jesus who took upon himself all of our sins – past, present and future!
So, as we continue to “celebrate” the Easter season, we do well to remember what our Savior did for all mankind. We “celebrate” this saving grace bestowed upon as we celebrate his resurrection – Easter.
As we continue to live through this horrible epidemic, there is seemingly no reason to feel joyful, at least not by human standards. There are so many people who are acquiring this virus, with far too many dying. We can pass blame, yet we are all responsible. Responsible for the spreading of the illness in our insistence to go outside or to not wear a mask or gather when we should not. None of us like being cooped up and restricted.
Yet, Easter calls us to joy. For those of us who have never come close to the kind of joy that the Apostles and all of Jesus’ followers had after his resurrection, there may be within us a pang of jealousy. What is it like to feel that way, so sure of our calling and our mission and our God, that nothing, not even threats of death, can steal our joy?
Part of the problem stems from our society’s view of happiness and joy. There’s the danger in thinking that they are the same; people of faith know that happiness is fine but fleeting. Inevitably, something comes along that makes us sad or mad.
But joy? That’s a different story. Joy comes from deep within and can’t be shaken by bad weather or traffic jams, even illness or work issues. Because joy is grounded in God, and God is never fleeting.
On this Mother’s Day during our Easter season, may we each find some joy in the resurrection of Christ by viewing him through our mothers who bore us. While many are unemployed and nervous for their next meal; while some may be ill and may be one of those particularly vulnerable to this virus causing serious harm; while others are concerned of this life as we have it now – let us try to find joy in Christ and his resurrection. Let us bless our mothers with a day of joy in a trying time, even if for a fleeting period.
This is a difficult time to be sure, let us each try to trust in our Lord and place our burdens at his feet, for he will indeed see and respond. Let us know that all through all this, there are front line workers who are doing those things that are meant to help us all. Help them to not fear as they put themselves in potential danger in so doing. These are angels sent from Jesus’ to help us during this time.
It is easy to give up and see no respite where we have difficulty seeing such. Let us take this fifth Sunday of Easter and do our best to place our trust in God and find some joy as we spend it with Him and our wonderful mothers. Let us find some joy in this difficult time. Our mothers bring us joy, and they are, like Our Lady Mary, and our Lord Jesus bringing love into the world.
God Love You +++