6th Sunday of Easter Reflection
Thirty years ago I was travelling with a group of friends returning from celebrating an evening Mass in Edenvale, Johannesburg. I was travelling at about 80 km/h down Langermann drive, a main arterial route to Kensington. As I approached at Ocean Street, a minor intercession leading from Rhodes Park, a voice within my head exploded, “STOP NOW!” As I slammed on the brakes, the motor car skidded some distance before shuddering to a stop. At that same moment, another vehicle without any lights passed just in front of us, having jumped the stop Street on Ocean Street. The warning may not always be spoken so loudly, but it is always speaking.
The Spirit of Truth, an amazing gift to accompany us through the ages of humanity. This is the spirit of truth that Scripture speaks about as the judge or advocate (dayân), as the intercessor, consoler, and comforter (paraklētos), and thirdly as the speaker, the forensic advocate, and orator (rhētōr).
With this wonderful gift with us and within us, we must ask ourselves why we, as the human species, have chosen and judged so poorly, have acted so rashly; why we have distorted truth and spoken such self-serving untruths to each other. As the poets of this age affirm, we have not put on the wedding garment: we have normalised greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack.
How has this happened? How are we to change? What must we do?
Let our hearts be broken; change must always begin with a broken heart. Only in that moment of humility, in that moment of complete humiliation as we stand on the precipice of destruction, is our pride sufficiently silenced so that we can hear and understand the terrors we have wrought upon the face of the earth.
Perhaps this is the purpose of our current struggle to come to knowledge and understanding and to stitch a new wedding garment. A wonderful opportunity to evaluate exactly where I stand as a follower of Christ who calls on us to be light-bearers into the world. I cannot give what I do not have. When last did someone see Jesus in my reflection?
Perhaps over the years with all its struggles, betrayals, and disappointments, grappling with all the over-confident religious ideologies and treacherous economic doctrines, we no longer reflect that Word, that burning light within us. Perhaps I have become a victim of abuse and manipulation. Once we no longer reflect the light, we are in the darkness.
Perhaps in bitterness, I have blamed others for so long, that the light of Christ is no longer visible to me or in me. Recognising my need I come to an admission of my guilt, taking responsibility and becoming reconciled to the source.
Perhaps I have poisoned the well at the source so thoroughly that I have rejected God’s Word and also poisoned the wellspring within me. Have I broken my vows and commitments as a priest, or as a parent, or as a child? I need to be reconciled to the source and the community and to accept the antidote offered by Christ from the Tree of Life.
Each one of us is called to reflect Christ, become very love that we mirror. The ability to love comes about through opening myself up in vulnerability, looking squarely into the heart of pain and suffering, allowing the depth of this reality to fully enter into me, allowing empathy to grow into compassion that transforms indifference into love.
As I look upon my corporate complicity within creation, I am no longer the central reference point, even my weaknesses and faults. In this central reference point, the guarded separateness of myself from others begins to dissolve.
This compassionate gaze breaks my heart and even though it is so incredibly hard to bear, this gaze expands my heart to ever-growing capacity.
Perhaps we have diverted ourselves too well for when I divert my gaze, divert my mind and busy myself with superficial distractions, I block not only the reality of that pain and the suffering but also block empathy, compassion and true intimacy that is necessary for love. It is only in this openness of a broken heart that another touches me and union becomes possible, heart beating to heart.
I need empathy and compassion for my weaknesses and faults, forgiving myself because I have been forgiven and loving myself because I am loved.
So much harm is done in our world by those who would impose upon themselves and others those unlovely purity codes and censures. This choice of law and sacrifice rather than grace to redeem disfigures the heart, leaves us brittle, harsh and judgemental.
This is the nature of pride and hypocrisy that we find hiding behind a mask of pious religiosity, even in our own hearts. Privilege, prestige, and power are the Achilles heel of vulnerability.
Living within the heart of love is that continuous circle of recognition, acknowledgement, surrendering to death and resurrection. In this resurrection, we come to recognise that love is stronger than death and grace more abounding than sin.
In this very moment of our age, we are offered a chance to begin again; to be united with the source of Light and Life, to be united with each other and to be united with God’s creation. This is the only Way that we can once more be the light of the world; to be one with the source so that we may have Life to the full. Through Jesus, in relationship with the Word made flesh, I come to be in Christ, with all of creation.
Let us follow the call of Pope Francis speaking on Divine Mercy Sunday,
“May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us: the time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family”…
“Let us welcome this time of trial as an opportunity to prepare for our collective future,” because without a vision that embraces everyone, there will be no future for anyone…
Let us show mercy to those who are most vulnerable for only in this way will we build a new world”…