Monday, March 12, 2012

'Cleaning And Purging' Revisited

I've been re-reading the posts I put in this blog three years ago. Back then, I was chronicling my sense of life as a Lenten discipline. At the same time I was placing that alongside the biblical selections for each day. Some days were better than others. Reflecting on the posts, it's been invaluable to me. I humbly and honestly believe it's the best stuff I've ever written; quite possibly the best I may ever write.

For the 3rd Sunday in Lent, I wrote a reflection on John 2:13-25. This passage recalls Jesus' clearing the Temple of the vendors and moneychangers, and it's the only event in the Gospels where Jesus "loses 'his cool'." (To read the full reflection, go here.) That event was pivotal with respect to how the religious hierarchy saw Jesus. As I wrote, "from that time on it becomes easier for those plotting against Jesus to make false accusations against him, ones that stick."

That being said, the very last part of that passage is also of great importance:
"...many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all,
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well"
(John 2:23b-25, New American Bible).

This was then, and is now, a cold slap on the face reminder that we are who we are. The constant sad stories of man's inhumanity to man speak clearly that we are in just as much need of God's merciful love now as compared to 1st Century Palestine. Knowing that it's there and has been there all along doesn't seem to change direction. In my own life this has at times thrown a wicked curve, causing me to question every single thing I do or to which I might aspire, and beat myself up mentally wondering what is motivating me.

There's the temptation here to "give up" - a term with which Lent is commonly associated. But this is not the emptying of the bucket or the cleansing of your temple, to be refilled with good things. No, this is surrendering to the wrong thing, leading to complacency, stagnation, and ultimately, death - death of the spirit, the worst thing a person can possibly endure in this life. No - as long as I can find yourself moving, my mind asking questions, my spirit longing in faith and in hope - life is still in me. I am alive because I am loved. 

To further grow spiritually, I must find something about my human nature and work at improving it beyond the base line John describes in this passage.

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