Sunday, 11 December 2016

Joy comes with healing

John the Baptist is worried, is Jesus the Messiah or isn't he?  John like  many of his time had an apocalyptic understanding of who the messiah was; a warrior, the scion of David, kingly in appearance one who would come to re-establish Israel. Jesus responds by reminding John via the reports his disciples will carry back Isaiah's words of healing (35.5-6; Matt. 11.5).  This is not what was expected, where was the new kingdom?  Where was the overthrow of the Roman invaders?  Where was the new society that was so hoped for?  Here we are so many years later asking the same questions, filled with the same doubt, in a world gone mad on violence and cold hearts.  What has happened to the joy that comes with God's peace and Christ's abundant love?

We feel as if we are deserted in the midst of the fecundity of present time.  Mainline churches and volunteer societies appear to be dying.  We look towards a bleak dry future so turn towards the glories of the past with reminiscences of the joy and love we felt when all things were bright and cheerful.  We yearn for a future that is filled with the joys of the past and the friendships that have been created.  What we never realise is that those joys that we are sunk into remain in the past and so we never have the ability to engage with the present to create new joys out of what we perceive to be endless sorrows.  It is only when we recognise that by dwelling in the past and attempting to re-create that past in the present we are creating our own melancholy and inability to move into the future.  In this recognition we begin our return to new life and the joy of Christ in the world.  By retreating to the past and attempting to recreate it in the present we are playing a political game that is only for our benefit, our control of the world around us, our drug of choice that pushes our own agendas without thinking of the greater whole or of Christ's life, death and resurrection.

Let the past die, mourn the past but live into the joy of new life.

Being human we are unable to let go of the memories of the past.  They haunt us in the present and deny us our future.  In the incarnation as it comes towards us we are reminded that we are mortal for God has created us and has become created with us so that we can live into the future.  A future that as we know involves dying and in dying we let go of the past.  In living into the future we recognise the elements of re-birth and newness of life as we co-create the joy of God's love.  It is only when we recognise the elements of death within our own lives that we can start to let go and let God's love in recreating joy, happiness and life.  It is through this healing power of understanding and anamnesis as we re-live the path of Christ that we come to the joy of new life.  This letting go and re-membering needs to occur within all aspects of our life.  We become hypocrites when we allow our past activities and politics to guide our present activities without first going through death to create new paths and new joys.

If we do this correctly, we mourn each death and move on into new life, this applies to parish life as much as to our lives in community.  This is the upside down world of God's coming kingdom, it is we who have to mourn not others, it is we who have to suffer the death of ourselves not others,it is we who have to forgive ourselves not others.  Christ gives us a clue to what healing in God's kingdom means as he proclaims those deeds that have been undertaken.  The poor and the outcast are given hope and joy.  The vicissitudes of life are not imposed by others but by by our own wants and needs our own rejection of the joy that is around us if we open our hearts to the other.  God's kingdom comes in the iruption of newness within the fecundity of our lives as we understand ourselves and so come open our eyes to joy and love in relationships we build into the future..

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