This is a blog that I post to several times a week although not necessarily daily. These reflections are triggered by the scripture found in the lectionary used by many Christian denominations. While I am part of the Catholic tradition, these posts are not --or rarely--sectarian. I try to put myself in the space of a of Jesus Christ and listen to words that come to me as I read and pray the scriptures. Each post also includes a photograph. These rarely have any connection to the content of the post but are simply pleasing images that I capture as I make my pilgrimage through life.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The message is consistent though not always clear.

Chihuly Garden Seattle
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”  Mark 8:33
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.  Mark 8:35
After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.  Mark 9:2-3
Each of these passages from Mark are taken from the gospel readings for three consecutive days.  For me each is re-enforcing the same message.  When Peter rebukes Jesus for talking to the apostles about his future death at the hands of those who oppose him.  The response of Jesus is stark and clear.  "You are like the devil that has tempted me in the past to divert from my destiny.  You are thinking in human terms and not the way the Divine One thinks."  There are clearly two ways of thinking at work here.  Jesus is living within a divine reality while Peter is still stuck in a human way of thinking with all its rationality and self-interest.

In the next section, Jesus begins to teach the disciples, the larger group of followers.  (The apostles were a core group so to speak and the disciples were followers but not in the close and intimate way of the apostles.)  Without mentioning his own coming death and resurrection, he discloses for the first time in Mark his theme of the Great Reversal.  However you think things work in this coming kingdom of the Divine One, it is just the opposite.  Not only do you need to take up your own cross and follow Jesus, but your desire to save your life eventuates in the loss of life but the loss of your life eventuates in saving your life.  This is almost a way of saying again that there is the way the Divine One thinks and the way that humans think.  The first leads to everlasting life and the second to death.

This is followed by Mark's telling of the story of the transfiguration of Jesus before Peter, James and John.  In some mysterious way, Jesus appears in this new reality of the Divine One while still in this world.  The three apostles are flabbergasted.  They don't know what to think or say.  The suggestion to build three tents is lame at best.  They realize that this is not just unreal but somehow a new reality and they don't even know how to think or talk about it.  The ways of the world seem inadequate and irrelevant.

Over and over again in so many different ways, Jesus is telling me today the same thing.  There is a life, a reality, that hides within the perceptible reality of the world.  It is this hidden reality that is the source of our life and which will continue on eternally.  It is animated by the spirit of the Divine One that resides in and animates all creation but in humans in a special way.  Rather than base my life on the perceptible reality, I am invited to enter into this deeper and eternal life.  Further I am called to live my life out of this deeper reality.  I am to "think as God does."  I am to "lose my life" in service to the good news of the reign of the Divine One and thus save it.  I am to become a fool for Christ.  As Paul says in 1 Corinthians Chapter 3,
Let no one deceive herself.  If any one among you considers herself wise in this age, let her become a fool, so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God...
 How hard it is to accept that my whole life has been a process of moving away from my life as I have known it and entering into a deeper reality of who I really am and through that entering into the interior life of the triune Divine One.  No wonder so much of what Christ says seems alien and hard to understand...and even harder to do.

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