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The Rose Stands out, Not in Spite of, but Because of the Thorns.

So, the Greeks want to see Jesus. The reason is because they want to see God. Jesus tells us how we can see God. Glory. What exactly is Glory? It is contrast. The rose basks in glory when thorns surround it: contrast. The Israelites ate and drank as much as they wanted. They were in awe because they were in a desert without food and water. Contrast. The man born blind was in a state of awe when Jesus filled his body with light, color, depth, and height. Contrast. Difficulty or hardship always makes great contrast, as dark does with light.

When I visited Mom in the nursing home, she looked sad. I understood why. It was a week before Christmas, her favorite time of year. So I asked the nurse if I could take her Christmas shopping. After I signed her out, I put the wheelchair in the trunk, and off we went.

It started to snow heavily, and of course, there was a traffic jam. It took us one hour to get to the mall.  When I finally got there, I found out, to my horror, that Kohl’s had a 50% off sale.  So, I had to park over in another zip code. When I took Mom out of the car, I put my jacket around her because it was freezing cold and darted across the lot to the entrance of the mall. Everywhere we went, there were long crowds and long waits.

You would think that because of the snowstorm traffic jam, no parking, long waits, and crowds, it had the making of a disaster. Yet, when we got back to the nursing home, Mom said to me, “Oh, Peter, I had such a good time.” How was that possible? Simple, she was not looking at the Rose, not the thorns. She was in a mall out of the nursing home with her son, shopping for Christmas gifts. My mother had contrast.

I was called into the hospital to anoint a young man. When I enter a young person’s room, it was full of people, and no one said a word. I experience that often when I see a young person in grave condition. The grief is so heavy that no one speaks. So when I entered, I broke the silence by asking them, “When was the last time you were able to talk to your loved one?” Someone replied, “Four days ago.” I then told them about the anointing and its value as a healing blessing. When I touched my thumb on the young man’s forehead to anoint him, he opened his eyes and looked at me as if he was seeing the angel of death, wondering why a priest was standing over him. To calm his fear, I told him, “I think your mother wants to talk to you,” and moved out of the way. The mother came over to me, wrapped her arms around me, and said, “God did this. God answered your prayers.” Others in the room agreed. When I walked into the room, I did not know anyone. When I left five minutes later, I can honestly say that I knew them well enough to know who the believers were, who were not, who had faith, and who did not have faith. The believers hugged me, patted me on the back, and gave me rigorist handshakes. They were grateful, happy, and in a state of awe.

When Jesus died on the cross, some saw God and others did not. But that is how God shows Himself to us–by contrast. That is why we can say the glory of the cross. And that is how the Greeks will see Jesus. Whenever life is hard, I wonder if we look like we are believers or not believers.

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