3rd Sunday of Lent Reflection
Illusions of Righteousness
Violence both attracts and repels us! Violence wells up in our mimetic desire and rivalry which escalate into conflict and violence. It is that hidden inner darkness of heart spilled out crimson across the pages of our human Journey.
Even within our religious congregations and communities, we are not spared from this condition. Observe our model of compassion, suffering from overload and burnout, who hits out in violent response at some seemingly insignificant complaint, leaving far too many in confusion and with permanent scars.
Far greater damage has been done in that terrible veiled violence that has at its source the illusion of moral superiority. From the haughty prelate to the convicted thief, we tend to overestimate our moral virtue, while at the same time devaluing the moral virtue of those who are not like us.
Self-righteousness does what it says on the label, it’s all about the ‘self’; it justifies and serves only the ‘self’. These are the illusions of moral superiority that lead us to the abyss.
Consider the writings and social media posts of many professed religious people of every denomination and hue who feel compelled to share their understanding of some principle of their tradition that is divisive, hurtful, scornful, and dismissive of others and their views. This is the stage of pride that abuses Holy Scripture to uphold our self-righteousness, to feel good about ourselves, and to place the mystery of God neatly in the box marked “ours”.
The Christ event shows us another way of nonviolence, absorbing within the Christ body all the violence that seeks to destroy not only humanity but also divinity. Here is our model to breaking free from the circle of violence.
In our actions we are called to reflect the goodness of God; this is our correction of society and the world. Jesus the Christ came not to condemn the world; who then am I to judge another?
As God’s hand stops the offering by Abraham of his son Isaac, showing the way towards ending human blood sacrifice, God now enters the temple in Jerusalem to finally stop animal blood sacrifice.
Christ now becomes for us the ultimate and the final sacrifice, the Lamb slain for the forgiveness of sins, and the scapegoat who takes the sins of the people upon his own back. This is the scapegoat thrust out into the desert, where God chooses to ‘forget’ our trespasses as we also called to unbind others from the bonds we hold over them.
Jesus affirms that prostitutes and all the despised members of our society enter into the kingdom of God before us who deem ourselves ‘righteous’. They have seen hearts of darkness turned against them, as they have also witnessed their hearts of darkness responding in violence. These truly are the Blessed who know their need of Jesus the Christ who was sent to call sinners, to heal the contrite of heart, and to intercede on behalf of those who acknowledge their brokenness and their need of the Light.
Our journey of Lent is a prayerful reflection on our life remembering that we are God’s children, not God’s ‘project’. Lent is a time for us to talk to God about our struggles; as we would talk to a dear friend, we ask Jesus to reveal all of our cherished illusions.
Each one of us needs this revelation to embrace God’s Plan of Grace to redeem us, returning us to our True value as children of God, especially in these times of trial and suffering. This is knowledge, based on humility, that leads to wisdom and then on to that unfailing compassion and Mercy that is the nature of Love, the nature of God. Our journey continues; let us never give up hope!
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