St John's College

Beloved St John’s Family,

At the Christian Passover every year, we celebrate our redemption through the events of the death and resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. The liturgies of the Christian Passover transport us through their liturgical focus, to three hallmark events relating to Our Lord’s Passion. We begin with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, wherein we give thanks to God for the gift of the Eucharist. We then on Good Friday, move to Calvary in the Commemoration of Our Lord’s Passion, and finally, come to meet the resurrected Lord in the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. The rituals found in the liturgies of this sacred festival, not only point to actions of Jesus that save us but ultimately to the boundless charity of Jesus, that we come to enjoy and are called to live out in our daily lives.

Two realities are presented to us, both of which are held in tension in the liturgies of the Christian Passover. The first is the divinity of Christ that demonstrates the knowledge he had of what was to befall him, together with the grace to continue to go through it for the salvation of all creation and our reconciliation with God the Father. The second reality, which often goes unnoticed, is the reality of Jesus’s human nature and just how human the events leading up to his crucifixion were.

Prominently featured in the events leading up to the crucifixion, is Judas; one of the twelve trusted friends, who was tasked with living with, and sharing in the witness and mission of Jesus. Jesus is betrayed, not by an outsider, but by one of his own; a friend, a brother, with whom he shared everything. Judas tends towards the human desire for fame and adulation, as well as the need for power often hidden behind the ability to provide for our basic needs; what a coincidence that these are the same temptations Jesus overcame in the desert (St Matthew 4:1-11) or is it a coincidence at all?

From the Incarnation of God at Christmas to the moment of his ascension into Heaven, we encounter the great mystery of our humanity and God’s divinity meeting each other and held in balance in the human person of Jesus Christ. Easter stands in the middle of the journey of God and humanity being reconciled to one another. We find a glorious new birth, a new form of divine life, resurrected from the ashes of the weaknesses and ailments of human experience, raised to illumine the darkest parts of the world and of the hearts of every human person. No longer is divine life, to be found in the rigorous following of laws, but rather in the adherence to the law of radical love; ‘love one another; as I have loved you, so are you to love one another. If there is this love among you, then all will know that you are my disciples.’ It is not the law that brings us to reconciliation with God, rather it is God’s love that invites us to this reconciliation, challenging us constantly to the many moments of death to self, only to be resurrected in the more glorious image of the stature of Christ.

God’s love for all of us is powerful. The love and mercy of God is so powerful that even through the betrayal of God’s mission, by the will of humanity, God ultimately gives us the greatest sacrifice for our reconciliation, His body on the cross and his redeeming blood. Ultimately we come to know through the Paschal mystery, that truly, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (St Paul’s Letter to the Romans 8:38-39).

There are many atrocities facing the world today. There is a constant vying for power between opposing forces in the world. We remain in the eye of the storm as we observe the events of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Behind the scenes, lies the ever-growing threat to world peace; namely the rival political ideologies of Russia and the West, and their undergirding socio-economic and governmental practices. The age-old Israeli/ Palestinian conflict continues to degrade persons of their human dignity as they are subjected to appalling living conditions and forced removals. Closer to home, the political instabilities of some of our neighbouring countries continue to subject thousands of families to refugee status as they seek asylum in different countries, leaving the land of their birth in search of a better life in unknown parts of the world. Equally troubling, are the constant conflicts that are continuously fought in the name of recognising the humanity and therefore the agency of all people in building a society wherein all may flourish regardless of their religion or lack thereof, gender, sexuality, race, and economic status, to name but a few. In each of these instances, along the way, many chants in various ways, slogans that speak out in affirmation of the liberation of those who are marginalized and subjugated, very much like the Lord’s Triumphant entry into Jerusalem as the Hebrews exclaimed in hope ‘Hossana to the son of David, blessed is he who comes in the Lord’s Name.’ Unfortunately, human betrayal remains as real to us today as it did back then; sometimes the same voices that cry ‘hosanna’ are found shouting in the crowds that cry out ‘crucify’, just as the ultimate betrayal of Judas himself.

Our pilgrimage through Lent to Easter invites us to discern more closely where we stand, to turn away from that which identifies us with the oppressor, and to turn towards the love of God that gives us life beyond the power of oppressiveness, to realize our own agency in the realization of the will of God for all people; ‘that they may have life, and have it in abundance’ (St John 10:10).

This Easter, it is my wish for us all, that we commit ourselves to new living. May we, in walking the way of the cross, and receiving the fruits of the resurrection, be energised to take up our own crosses and follow Christ, crucifying within us those things that lead us to the betrayal of the mission and will of God for us, to find our resurrection in growing in the full stature of Christ; ‘ who did not take equality with God as something to marvel at but humbled himself to death, even death on a cross’ (St Paul’s letter to the Philippians 2:8).

May the Spirit of Easter so translate into our lives, bringing us always towards new life and life in its fulness.

Alleluia Christ is Risen, may we share his resurrected life to the ends of the world, in the way we live and let live.

With love and blessings

The Rev’d Fr Thapelo Masemola