Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Faithful at any cost?

Many people live with the unconscious or conscious expectation that eventually things will get better; wars, hunger, poverty, oppression, and exploitation will vanish; and all people will live in harmony.  Their lives and work are motivated by that expectation.  When this does not happen in their lifetimes, they are often disillusioned and experience themselves as failures.

But Jesus doesn't support such an optimistic outlook.  He foresees not only the destruction of his beloved city Jerusalem but also a world full of cruelty, violence, and conflict.  For Jesus there is no happy ending in this world.  The challenge of Jesus is not to solve all the world's problems before the end of time but to remain faithful at any cost.

Henri Nouwen - with thanks to the Henri Nouwen Society

Faithfulness; trust; mercy. It seems to me that these three are inextricably linked. God's mercy, Christ himself, is faithful beyond our imagining, and it is only in him that our own little faithfulness can subsist at all. We trust so little.

Irma Zaleski says, "It is our failure of trust, our turning away from God and focusing on ourselves - our self-centredness - our need to protect ourselves at all cost, which the Fathers considered the root of all sin. Because we are unable to anybody or anything, and, above all else, because we are unable to trust God, we are compelled to reply on our own resources, to attempt to find our own happiness, and to fulfil our own desires and needs. We are imprisoned, stranded on the island of our self. We are all exiles from Paradise."

The only way out is repentance: trusting God in Christ enough to give up struggling, give up our self-reliance, and to cry out unceasingly, like some 21st-century Bartimaeus, for mercy, in whatever words, or wordlessness, we are given...

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