Reflections for the Week of Sunday March 20, 2016 Sixth of Lent, Palm Sunday

Scriptures: Isaiah 50.4-9a; Psalm 31.9-16; Luke 22.14-23-56; Philippians 2.5-11.

Isa 50 is the third of the Servant Songs in isaiah. In Ps 31 the psalmist, like Christ, is in trouble but trusts in the Father. The Lucan text tells of Palm Sunday and the Lord’s return to His temple. Phil 2 is a song of God the Son’s incarnation, crucifixion, and exaltation.

The Human Condition II

In the fifth week of Lent we looked at the human condition in terms of the question, “Where are you?“ This week, the last week in Lent, the question is asked, “Who are you? Jesus reveals God the Ultimate Reality and the Ultimate Mystery of the Hebrew Scriptures to us. YHWH left the temple in Ezek 10 because of the idolatry of His people, and now on Palm Sunday Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Mal 3.1-3 of the return of the Lord to the temple. But Jesus’ actions show God’s displeasure and forecast the temple’s destruction. A new temple is needed and Jesus is Himself that new temple and when the Spirit dwells in believers, they are a new temple also (1 Cor 3.16; 2 Cor 6.16; Eph 2.22). We human beings come into the world as little bundles of emotional needs, fallen away from God with Adam, and not knowing God. In childhood and later apart from God our experience of daily life is usually one of being dominated by external events and our emotional reactions to them. This is the illness of the human condition from which we all suffer. Our afflictiive emotions, including anxiety and anger, are certain signs that a self-constructed program for happiness has been frustrated. Our immature value systems, often unconscious, are thrown into emotional turmoil. This is a painful way to live one’s life. Jesus came saying,”Repent”, i.e., change your motivations, your values, where you are looking for happiness. Like those in AA, our lives are unmanageable. We desperately need a Higher Power. Fulfillment, peace, and joy come from letting go of the obstacles to the awareness of the divine Presence within us. Our ordinary awareness of daily living based on the false self is like being at an interesting movie where we identify with the characters and circumstances and experience the resultant emotions. We don’t even think of leaving. If we could dismantle the false self with its self-centered and illusory programs for happiness and experience the divine Presence in us, we could let go of our attachments and aversions to circumstances and simply walk out of the movie that is our life and its tyranny over our feelings. Daily life with its afflictive emotions shows us the tyranny of our false self. The Holy Spirit can free us from our dependence on the false self, the roles we play, the cultural conditioning we experience, and the illusions we believe. We can assume control of our lives based on mature reason and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Christ can set us free from the illusory programs for happiness that we adopted before we knew God and that lead us into misery as we look for happiness in all the wrong places. We can allow our false self to be crucified with Christ. It is not easy but it is possible with the Spirit’s help. To crucify the false self is to bring oneself to nothing and make Christ everything. It is to give up our roles, our demands, our pride. To become a ‘no self’, is to become our true Self which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1.27). To be empty of self is to be full of God. If we have not experienced ourself as unconditional love, we have more work to do, because that is who we are.

Memory Verse: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal 2.20).

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