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LTJ #8: The Watergate Question

If you’ve lived in these here parts for a good number of years, meaning here in or near the Nation’s Capital, the word ‘Watergate’ might conjure up some interesting memories, long since dormant emotions, and perhaps some nervous ticks. 


Of course, I speak of an office complex in Washington, D.C. known as the “Watergate”.  It has interesting architecture and the buildings in the city sit along the banks of the Potomac River.  I wonder how many people still associate it with the Watergate scandals, that series of American political scandals during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon.  The scandals resulted in indictments of Nixon's closest advisors, and ultimately led to his resignation on August 9, 1974.

nyway, this is supposed to be a reflection for my Life and Teachings of Jesus class.  So you’re probably wondering why I’ve started off with this.


Well, in class as we explored the Synoptic Gospels of Sts. Matthew, Mark and Luke, sometimes questions would arise about this Jesus, who he was, if he even knew, and whether or not he understood what his purpose was here on earth:  What did he know, and when did he know it?  This is sometimes referred to as the ‘Watergate’ question.


We were reading the account of Jesus coming to John the Baptizer.  He went out to the Baptist in the wilderness like everyone else.  John was preaching a message of repentance because “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”.  He offered a physical ritual cleaning in the flowing, moving waters of the Jordan River.  Because the river waters moved and flowed, the “baptiso“, meaning ‘to dunk’, took place “in living water”.  Sins would be washed away, and things purified and made anew. 


But let’s fast forward to the part where Jesus comes up out the water, the heavens opened up, the Spirit descended like a dove, and a voice speaks down from heaven above.  “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”




In the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke, God above speaks to Jesus.  But in St. Matthew’s account, the heavenly pronouncement is to all those present, including Jesus.  Does Jesus realize this?  I won’t speak for anyone else but myself.  When I hear something that sounds even remotely profound or important, I listen.  “Pay attention, there’s going to be a quiz!”


So imagine if Jesus were called to appear before the grand jury of his day, and was directed to repond to these questions: What did you know, and when did you know it?  Did your mother Mary ever tell you who you are?  Did she ever allude to who your father is?  Your ‘real’ Father?  Might she have ever mentioned your pedigree and excitedly blurted out, “You are the Son of God”?  Did your mother tell you the story of the Annunciation, and her faithful and obedient decision to be “the handmaiden of the Lord?”  Who is Joseph?  What do you call him?  Earthly Father?  And why did you go to the Baptist when you did, and why?  Rumor has it that a voice spoke from the heavens and addressed you – did you hear it?  What did you hear?  Why are you here?  What are you going to do?


Of course, this is at the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus.  He’s just getting started.  Perhaps the Spirit which descended and rested upon him provided the DNA of his divinity.  He was a man of flesh and blood, but he was filled with the Spirit of God.


I’ve read enough of the stories throughout the Gospels to know that Jesus had this interesting tendency to answer a question with another question.  He knows what he knows.  He wants to know what we believe.  We have seen Him, and He has walked among us.  He has invited us to join with Him in good works.  And the only question I hear, and the only answer that matters is how I, we, you and me, each one of us, will respond to:


“And who do you say that I am?”


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Dec. 12th, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
I love that use of "pay attention, there's going to be a quiz!"
Good quote, beloved.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )