Skin in the Game
April 6, 2012Good Friday at the river. Rain is pouring. Even heaven cries. Scripture tells the awful, amazing tale. John 18:1 through John 19:42 takes us across the Kidron Vally to the garden where the fray begins. Soldiers and priests and Pharisees come to find this Jesus who is threatening the status quo. Jesus' resolve is clear. "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret." The authorities don't know what to do with him. His closest friends deny him. The crowd prefers release of the thief. And God incarnate is condemned to the cross. Why does God put so much skin in the game? Jesus's skin, Jesus' body, fully human with all the needs of hunger, sleep, all the bodily processes seem so unnecessary for God. But Jesus fully divine and fully human beyond our understanding has all the lowliness and frailty of flesh. He is the skin in the game, and puts it all on the line. Even Jesus' flesh has the limitations of mortality. But the incarnation does not end. Ronald Rolheiser, in his book The Holy Longing, speaks about the ongoing character of the incarnation in this way: "The incarnation is not a thirty-three-year experiment by God in history, a one-shot, physical incursion in our lives. The incarnation began with Jesus and it has never stopped. God is still present, as physical and as real today, as God was in the historical Jesus. God still has skin, human skin and physically walks on this earth just as Jesus did." We who call ourselves the Body of Christ, we who feed on the "body and blood" of Jesus at the Eucharistic table, are nourished in this holy presence that fuels and energizes our bodies and our consequent work and witness in the world. Christ is present through us in our ways of walking the earth. Sometimes in our lives, we forget that we re-present Christ in all our words, in all our body language, in all our acts of kindness and mellowness and generosity. We are the skin in the game for today. As we ponder and reflect on Jesus' last day, let us re-member Christ and lose everything that is not Christ in our lives. God will use us for good as we re-member Christ. How much skin am I willing to put in the game? That is my examen for the day. May we all come to a faithful response. Amen.