Saturday, August 20, 2016

When Love Bursts in

- At the Desert Retreat House -

I just came across a story in one of the Christian Gospels that I find to be very “iconic” of the life and teaching of Jesus. As the story goes, a woman who had been sick and crippled for 18 years was attending a weekly synagogue service at which Jesus was a guest preacher. When Jesus saw the poor woman, unable to walk or stand up straight, he healed her and the burden of her long suffering was lifted.

Now you might think that this wondrous occurrence would have been hailed with exuberant shouts of joy but the fact is that the leader of the synagogue was actually very upset with Jesus for healing the suffering of that poor woman. There were lots of healers in Jesus’ time (perhaps akin to today’s physicians) and it was against the Jewish religious laws to perform any sort of healing on the Sabbath because healing was a type of ‘labor” and you weren’t supposed to work on the Sabbath.  And so, Jesus’ compassionate act of lifting the burden of that woman’s suffering was actually breaking the laws of the religious institution

I say that this is iconic of what Jesus did and taught because many times we see stories about Jesus breaking the rules when the rules got in the way of love,  and in Jesus’ day there were plenty of religious rules that often got in the way of “love.”  Many rules excluded large swaths of people - sick people, poor people, weak people and public sinners were automatically relegated to the margins of society. There were rules about who you could touch, who you could talk to, and when you could heal.

When Jesus saw anyone who was ostracized or encountered anyone who suffered he always invited then to a place of dignity and he lifted their burden - he never let any rules get in the way.

I am reminded of a line from an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical that seems to apply so well here:

Love bursts in and suddenly all our wisdom disappears.
love makes fools of everyone- all the rules we made are broken.
Love changes everything.

Jesus was a rule breaker if the rule stood in the way of love and he invited all those disciples who would follow in his “Way” to do the same; and yet, it seems to me that many “followers of Jesus" (and many religious people in general) choose to ignore this less conventional aspect of Jesus’ teaching and example.

 Priest and author, Richard Rohr, once said this about traveling the path of any spiritual journey:

God is actually quite wild and dangerous,
but we have domesticated divine experience so much
that most religious people find themselves to be fearful conformists instead of
adventurous seekers of Love and Mystery.

I am really struck by the clarity and wisdom of this observation. Many religious (and spiritual; people) are indeed “fearful conformists.” God has been tamed, relegated to a controllable place where “he” can be easily accessed when needed. Many think of “God” as the man upstairs, someone who lives in a church or temple who can visited from time to time. As I see it, far too many religious/spiritual people follow a path is clearly marked and well-defined by given rules and fairly precise rituals that demand little in the way of adventure or boldness.

The “Way” of Jesus, as well as the course of almost every other spiritual path, is a journey that often goes against the popular grain, an adventurous trailblazing journey and not a path of fearful conformity.  “God” is indeed wild and dangerous, totally untamed and unable to be controlled. “God” is the energy of Love, inviting us to walk into an exciting wilderness on uncharted paths, new every morning, new every moment.

When Love bursts in all the rules we made are broken!

1 comment:

  1. So true...when I can tap into the vast ocean of love within my relationships everything else falls away whether that be resentment, anger, frustration. Love melts away all that is unimportant and guides me in my next moments. Thanks you Paul xx