A Catholic Monthly Magazine

And Christ Stopped by the Waikanae River

by Glen McCullough

by Glen McCullough

Of course, we all know that Christ lived in Palestine about 1,980 years or so ago. God chose that time and place for the incarnatian of His Son; He could also have chosen today as the time, and New Zealand for the place. Here is one version of how it might have happened. How would you react?

Jesus stopped by the  Waikanae River the other day. Of course, I had heard what everyone was saying about him .... that he could perform miracles, that he was a great teacher, that he could even be the King we had been promised so long ago. So when a friend rang and told me he was there, my curiosity got the better of me and I went to have a look for myself.

When I got there, he was sitting on a bench at Otaihanga with a few people I took to be his followers. He was quietly telling the children stories, and I couldn’t mistake the look of adoration they had on their faces. There was quite a crowd gathered already, so I was lucky to be able to find a spot close to him. Once, he looked up at the crowd around him, and for a split second his eyes met mine. They were clear, penetrating eyes, and for that instant I felt that he had seen right down into me, that he knew everything there was to know about me, my bad side as well as my good. I almost turned and ran right then and there. Somehow, though, I stayed. I was already beginning to suspect that this man had the answer to the hunger and unrest that had been with me for so long. Perhaps this man could give me hope where there was only despair.Waikanae3

Suddenly there was a disturbance at the back of the crowd, and when I turned around I saw three men carrying someone in a wheelchair towards Jesus. It was a bit of a struggle, because there were already a couple of thousand people packed around the bench. But they persevered, and put the wheelchair down in front of Jesus. The crowd went very quiet, expectant, almost like they were all holding their breath at once. Then I realised that the person in the wheelchair was Harry, the spastic we had all laughed at when we were at school. He put out that funny, misshapen arm of his towards Jesus and made that peculiar sound that should mean something but doesn’t. Jesus just sat there, and in a clear, ringing voice told Harry that his faith had cured him, and ordered him to get out of his wheelchair and walk. So Harry did. It really was a miracle. Harry just sat up straight, and got out of his wheelchair, and stood up and walked. “I can walk” he shouted for all of us to hear.

Waikanae2I tell you, if I hadn’t been there I would never have believed it. Now, I could no longer doubt the stories I had been hearing about the miracles Jesus was supposed to have done. I had heard, too, that he was forgiving sinners. Perhaps he would forgive me, too, if I asked him?

Then he began to speak to us in the crowd. It struck me that he was speaking with real authority. He seemed to be talking for God, rather than about him. He left me in no doubt that he considered himself representative of God. The contrast between the religious teachers I had experienced (and largely ignored) and this man was obvious - ordinary teachers and preachers had spoken of God in an abstract way and had quoted the scriptures to prove their points and define their burdensome religious laws, leaning on them and tradition for their authority. But this man obviously enjoyed a close personal relationship with God – almost a father/son relationship. And when he quoted scripture, it wasn’t to prove a point but to explain its meaning, and in one place even to claim that it was being fulfilled today. I began to think that this man could well be the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God promised to us. But he never said he was in so many words -
he just left us to wonder, to decide for ourselves.Waikanae3

His message was quite clear. God was love. God loved us without reservation. God’s love was unique in this day and age .-
it was free for the taking, with nothing asked in return. He claimed that his father’s kingdom was not for the here and now, but we had to prepare ourselves for it now. If we left it too late to accept the kingdom, we would miss out on all the love his father had to offer.

But acceptance of that love would involve me in a radical change in my life. I would have to put aside everything that stood between me and God’s love. Money, material possessions, selfish desires of all colours and shades, even family loyalty would have to go if it meant turning down God’s ridiculous offer of everything I needed in this life. So I would have to change. Instead of sticking to the letter of the law (and not even that if I thought I could get away with it), I would have to do something much more difficult; I would have to keep the spirit of the law as well.

Suddenly I realised the crowd was drifting away ... I think they were unable to accept his message because it was so radical and demanded too much of them, too high a commitment. Some of the temple establishment were walking away looking very angry, too, because much of what he was saying cut right to the heart of their conservative theology and found nothing there but a heart of stone. They, too, had been unable to answer his challenge.Jesus Bus

But there was no doubt of the force of his preaching. I was so dissatisfied with my life, had been searching for meaning in my life for so long, that I could not afford to ignore his message. Somehow, I knew that he was the final answer. Because he was the way, the truth and the life, and the answer to all my questions about life lay in his Father’s love. I had no option but to follow Him.

Then he looked straight at me again, and invited me to go with Him. I was very surprised, because He even knew my name. So I got on the bus with Him and His followers.

Tagged as: ,

Comments are closed.