4th Sunday Reflection
People who are more vengeful tend to be those who are motivated by power, by authority and by the desire for status. They don’t want to lose face. Those personalities, tend to be less forgiving, less benevolent and less focused on “universal-connectedness-type” values… anger often drives the vengeful feelings of people in individualistic cultures, while shame powers revenge in collectivist ones… when we do get revenge, we can no longer trivialise the situation. Instead, we think about it. A lot. Rather than providing closure, it does the opposite: It keeps the wound open and fresh. Social Justice Research (Vol. 138, No. 2 – 2008)
Is this how we experience God; trivialising our choices or angry and vengeful? These are not attributes of God; these are conditions of human pathology, of sickness, and disease.
We have all been witnesses of the scramble by the rich and powerful to acquire and to hoard the vaccine to our current world pandemic. There is perhaps one overriding question of this modern age; what is best for me? When we link this to society that prizes wealth, fame, success, and celebrity above all else, we begin to see how we move from the desire for the common good towards ever greater narcissism.
The term narcissism originated more than 2,000 years ago when Ovid wrote the legend of Narcissus. He tells the story of a beautiful Greek hunter who, one day, happens to see his reflection in a pool of water and falls in love with it. He becomes obsessed with its beauty and is unable to leave his reflected image until he dies. After his death, the flower narcissus grew where he lay.
When Jesus states that he is the TRUTH, he affirms that relationship through which we come to know not only who we are, but also the path that we are called to walk. Truth is the other side of the coin of love, for love cannot be based upon lies, deceit, illusions, all delusions. Jesus, the Christ, is the true Author of creation, that Word of God that speaks all that is into being; this is authority.
Jesus as the word of God is something alive and active, it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely; it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts.
But there is a complication. Even the best of teachers is nothing before those who have closed their minds and hearts to them. Even the Lord was powerless before the stubborn refusal of the Pharisees to open themselves to his teaching. How often have I not experienced this in our own lives?
Parents cannot teach their children that honesty, discipline, forgiveness, or Sunday Mass is important if their own lives witness to the contrary. Children are very quick to spot a phony and will most often judge the truth they are being taught by the integrity of the one who is teaching them.
God respects our choices, that gift of free will that is at the foundation of our ability to love. Here we find no trivialising of our choices, but neither find anger nor vengeance for these are conditions of our choices that seek to find love in the wrong places.
Here we find the narcissistic mother who creates the golden boy of her son, distorting her spousal relationship. Here we find the fearful industrialist jumping the queue ahead of caregivers for their dose of vaccine. Here we find the narcissistic father without empathy or compassion.
When we become conscious of the effects of our choices, witnessing the ongoing circle of destruction through generations, awareness itself becomes the source of our suffering. This is not God’s doing, for the God of love and truth could never delight such destruction.
The author of life shows us the path we are to follow in humility. Look again at your choices, look again at your relationships, seek the light of God to shine on all that is based on lies, deceit, untruths, illusions, and delusions, look again and change your mind: this is the ongoing call to repent, to change our minds and our hearts, and to choose a different way. Repent and believe in the Good News!
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