Again, “We adore God who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him” (Pope Francis, 6/21/14).
Many translations in various Bibles of Jesus’ words in Gethsemane, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt 26:39; Mk 14:36; Lk 22:42), are categorically erroneous. These translation read, “Father, if it is possible, let this
cup of suffering pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt 26:39; Mk 14:36; Lk 22:42)? The words “of suffering” do not appear in any of the Greek texts in any of the Gospels.
Rev. John L. McKenzie, in his Dictionary of the Bible, speaks thusly of “the cup.” ”The cup is a vessel that often appears in figurative language in the Bible. The “cup of comfort” is offered to mourners. The “cup of thanksgiving” is drunk to celebrate the reception of a favor. Jeremiah speaks of the “cup of wrath” which the nations will have to drink at their downfall. The head of the household filled the cups of the family and guest at the table. The cup is a figure of one’s lot or portion (Mt 26:39, 20:22)” [Emphasis added].
Jesus’ portion in life, Jesus lot in life, was to Proclaim the Kingdom of God and the Way to enter that Kingdom by doing the Will of the Father “on earth as it is done in heaven”—and to reveal by His Person, words and deeds what the content of the Way and Will of the Father is—in season and out of season.
In 1942 Clarence Jordan a white Baptist Minister from Georgia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture, a Doctorate Degree in the Greek New Testament, and with a deep belief in the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies saw racism as a grave evil. Feeling strongly called to respond to this evil where he lived, he and some other Christians who believed in the Nonviolent Jesus and His Way of Nonviolent Love of all started an integrated farming community, named Koinonia (Greek for communion or fellowship), in southwest Georgia. Southwest Georgia for African-Americans at that time was the closest thing there was to a Nazi America.
Jordan knew full well the possible dangers involved in confronting the evil of racism by responding to it with the ongoing presence of an interracial Christian community, that without speaking a word, just by living its truth, morally repudiated racism as a grave evil contrary to the will of God as taught and lived by Jesus. Those dangers materialized and Koinonia eventually became a hated presence by the Christians in the area. Contempt, disdain, disparagement and ridicule were common fare. Impoverishing boycotts, burning of crops almost ready for harvesting, on going violence and bombings were Jordan’s and this Christian community’s lot. Through all of it, often with fear and trembling, Jordan and the community remained faithful to what they believed they were called to by God, namely, a living obedience to the will of God as revealed by the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies.
Neither Jordan nor the Christians with him in the community started Koinonia to be beaten, robbed, derided, or killed. Koinonia was to be and was a witness to the Lordship of Jesus and the truth of the will of God as He revealed it by His words and deeds. Concomitantly it stood as a witness against untruth, Christian untruth presented and lived as the Gospel truth. Clarence Jordan and each of the Christians who began Koinonia felt personally called by God, who had bestowed on them the gift of faith in Jesus as Lord, to confront the evil of racism, of Christian racism, not with violence or an encyclical or a letter-to-the-editor, not with unrelenting anger toward clerics, politician, academics and business people who believed in, supported and thrived off of the evil of racism, but rather with enfleshed, incarnated, lived truth and love as taught by Jesus as the only Way to vanquish evil because it is the Way of God who is love, who alone can conquer evil.
God communicated to Clarence Jordan and the others who made up that Christian community back in 1942 that this is where they should go and how they should witness to the truth of the God Of Nonviolent Love of all revealed and made visible in His Word, the Nonviolent Jesus. This was their lot in life and in the life of Faith. Whether they lived or died, suffered or prospered as they walked as Jesus would walk along that portion of time and space in which they were called to exist was a non-issue that here was where they were called by God to love as Jesus loved them. They committed to drink the cup of their given lot down to the dregs whether its taste at any moment was sweet or bitter.
And equally profound and authentic historical witness to drinking the cup that Jesus (Mt 20:22) drank down to the last drop, the cup of steadfast commitment to the will of God as revealed by God Himself, in Jesus, is the film of the martyrdom of the Trappists Monks in Algeria in 1996, Of Gods and Men.
If Jesus did not drink the cup offered to Him and from which He was committed to drink for the remainder of His life come what may, If Jesus had refused to drink the final remaining drops from that cup, if He had given Himself a loophole for not drinking from the cup of commitment and then acted contrary to what He had been teaching as the Truth, the Will and the Way of God all His life, if He had said to Peter, “Get the other ear! Kill him!” If He had cried out from the Cross, “Father, destroy those who are destroying Me,” would we even know of Him today? Could He possibly be understood as the incarnation of the all Holy, all Truthful, and all Loving God of everlasting merciful love of all and toward all? Would He be considered the Savior of humanity, if when the going got tough in following Father’s Truth, Will and Way He said, “I refuse to follow your will any longer. I will no longer drink from the cup of your Truth, your Will and your Way?
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
(To be continued)