It is one of the human realities to which the Gospel stories bear frequent testimony that I find most difficult to accept.

It appears in Mark’s Gospel chapter 10. Blind Bartimaeus hears Jesus is going to pass near where he sits each day begging. In desperation, Bartimaeus calls out

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! (Mark 10:47b)

Who would not feel compelled to support Bartimaeus in his bid to be healed of his blindness? What might ever cause a person to intentionally put an obstacle in the way of a blind man receiving the gift of sight?

And yet, Mark says, when Bartimaeus called out to Jesus,

Many sternly ordered him to be quiet. (Mark 10:48a)

What is the problem here? Why do these “Many” feel compelled to stand in the way of Bartimaeus in his bid for sight?

In Matthew’s Gospel faced with the life-giving miracle-working power of God, when Jesus healed a man with a withered hand,

the Pharisees went out and conspired against Jesus, how to destroy him. (Matthew 12:14)

It is one of the great tragedies of human life that there are those among us – perhaps at times each of us – who seek at least to obstruct, if not to destroy, life.  Faced with the abundance and creativity of the love that is the nature of God, we become resistant and guarded. We oppose the force of beauty, truth, goodness, and light at work in life.

Rather than expanding to embrace the flow of life, we become tight, pinched, and turned in upon ourselves. We cling to our own impoverished vision of reality and refuse to give up the illusion that we should be able to control our circumstances.

Why are expansiveness and generosity so difficult?

Why is the tight small airless prison of our judgment so much more comfortable than the wide open spaces of light and welcome in which God invites us to travel freely?

Perhaps grace is just too unpredictable for our comfort. Love refuses to be confined behind tidy boundaries. Resistance feels like safety. But the security it offers is a lie.

We can never make our world small enough to ensure that there are no threats on the horizon. The only hope of security lies in giving up the need for security and letting go of our determination to keep ourselves safe.

When our hearts open to the place that is deeper and more real than all fleeting circumstance, we begin to find that true strength that never fades in the face of struggle and cannot be overwhelmed by difficulty. It is from this place of abundance that true generosity naturally emerges. There is no power greater than this overflowing life-force that, in Christian tradition we call “God” and that we say was fully embodied in the person of Jesus.

The determination to live the Christ-life means living wide-open, exposed to the flow and energy of that life that filled and empowered Jesus. This life-force does not need to exclude. It does not need to shut anyone out. It can embrace all gifts, no matter how sad and poor those gifts may be to our tight little imprisoned Pharisee-judgments.

Christ-energy accepts the inevitable mess and confusion that so often characterize the creative moving of God’s Spirit in peoples’ lives.

Advertisements