Sunday, November 4, 2018

Healing for Hard Hearts

Isaiah 53:4-12
Hebrews 5:1-10
Mark 10:35-45

In the center of existence lies the paschal mystery: the Cross of Jesus. The disciples, normal humans all, cannot understand this mystery. Every time Jesus tells them about His impending suffering and death, they bicker about who is the greatest, or chase off kids or (today) request a special status.
This is not simply a cognitive error, it's the manifestation of the "darkened nous" and "sick heart" which need to be healed, enlightened and sanctified. James and John ask Jesus for a place of glory, after He had just said He would suffer and die because humans are hard headed and hard hearted, we are all broken and weak.
The Good News is Hebrews 4:15 says “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.” In Jesus, God embraces our humanity, looks us in the eye and says "I understand, I am with you in this human weakness." Weakness is the human dilemma. We know our power and strength hang by a thread. We can lose everything in the blink of an eye, so we pursue safety and security on our own terms, and deny we are afraid. 

But our solutions, like the apostles' desire for glory, are fueled by the blind “passions,” and lead to pain and further brokenness. The false self cannot find authentic salvation, because it looks in the wrong direction. The purpose of life is union with God and one another in love. The passions literally stir up chaos within us and around us. Isaiah says that God’s Servant will carry our sickness, pain and sadness. He will heal us by His suffering and carry out sins—the Passion (Jesus' cross) heals human heart's of the passions (sinful desires). Like Jesus, we must die to become our true self.
“Although [Jesus] was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered; and having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who *obey Him.” Why is the path of suffering  the road to salvation? Only those who have faithfully walked it can explain. Why is obedience to Him required? Only those who have submitted to Him can understand. 

James and John want glory. Other apostles want power. Others want to not be disturbed. In each case, Jesus must bring them back to their true identity. Glory means suffering, power means service, the Kingdom is for children....and none of it makes any sense to our worldly egos, darkened minds or wounded hearts.  

It is only when we believe that He sympathizes with us, that the doubt and fear go away. When we know He suffers and dies for us, then we can obey, even if it means we suffer as well. When we know that by His wounds we are healed, we can turn to the crucified Messiah and open ourselves to receive healing. 

To love God and love one another, to be united with God in our humanity and experience theosis, is the purpose of life. Love looks up to God and opens its arms to others, so it looks like the cross. James and John had to learn that obedient love and self sacrifice are the only real seat of glory. So must we....

*Psalm 78, which uses the words trust, remember and obey interchangeably, is a biblical source which helps us understand this concept. Trusting faith is faithful, obedient trust.

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