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A Secure Attachment With Jesus: The Gospel of Mark
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Thursday
Feb112016

Having Jesus in Your Heart 91

 “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, ‛How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?’ And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus....[Days later, in the middle of the night] Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: ‛You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.’ So Judas came straight to Jesus. ‛Greetings, Rabbi!’ he exclaimed and gave him the kiss. Jesus said, ‛My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.’ Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him.

But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear. ‛Put away your sword,’ Jesus told him. ‛Those who use the sword will die by the sword. Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?’ Then Jesus said to the crowd, ‛Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.’ At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.” Matthew 26:14-16, 47-56

[While he lived in the] world the Lord fulfilled everything in the Word, and by doing so became divine truth even on the last or outermost level. This is what the following words in John mean: ‛And the Word became flesh and lived among us; and we saw his glory, glory like that of the only begotten child of the Father. He was full of grace and truth.’ (John 1:14)....[To] understand how the Lord is the Word...[we] need to realize that we are all our own will and our own intellect. This is how one person is differentiated from another. The will is a vessel for love and for all the forms of goodness that relate to that love, and the intellect is a vessel for wisdom and for all the forms of truth that relate to that wisdom, it follows that we are all our own love and our own wisdom. Humans are not human on any other basis; and nothing else in us is human.

In the Lord's case, he is love itself and wisdom itself, and therefore goodness itself and truth itself. He became all this [by the process of] fulfilling all the goodness and all the truth in the Word. Someone who thinks and speaks only the truth becomes that truth. Someone who intends and does only what is good becomes that goodness. Because the Lord fulfilled all the divine truth and all divine goodness that are in the Word – both the truth and goodness in its earthly meaning and the truth and goodness in its spiritual meaning – he became goodness itself and truth itself, and therefore became the Word.  True Christianity §261, 263

 

Jesus Christ lived his story, as had been told for several thousand years. Our difficulty with this concept has several layers. First there is the most outward level, our experience of physicality and its linear time and space. Then there is a psychological layer and our need to understand and make meaning and sense of our experience. And finally there is the deepest layer, that has many names, but is our humanness where we are touched by God.

Every time I read this story I want to cry out “Look out, Jesus! Go somewhere else and teach people and heal them! You must know this is coming, so get out of there!” And in the next very quiet moment, I remember to humble myself to his divine plan for the salvation of the human race that is his real, if at times hidden, story. This entrapment and betrayal is part of the process that will bring Jesus to his victory over the powers of darkness. There is not only no other way, this is the best way since God led humans out of the proverbial Garden of Eden to transcend the limiting selfishness and materialism of the snake and the tree.

And I want Peter and the others to “get it” that violence is unnecessary, and that is why it is always harmful. And it is so wonderful that Jesus shows us that his way is healing, even of our thoughtless, fearful or angry violence. It is right that our attention is caught on this most external level of the story. It is where we “live” most of the time, and on which we expend most of our energy.

So let us take the entire scene in and not miss the point: Jesus does not seek to alter the circumstances in his life. Rather he developed a certain relationship to his circumstances. His life is a model for the rest of us. Seeking to connect with people of all sorts; teaching his truth, even to power; reaching out to heal with loving kindness. And so he arrives on this night ready to lean into his relationships with the Temple leaders, the Romans, Judas, and Peter. He lets go of any need to defend his human ego, any need to be right, remaining curious – asking them all to be insightful – and certainly not violent.

And I stop and think about this, which is the second layer of my life. How does it make sense that my God would descend to my level of existence, and divinely willingly, although with a very human wish to avoid, pass through the ordeal that all humans must in order to be transformed from merely physical to spiritual beings? It makes sense when I realize the peace and joy of living in the light and life of love and wisdom created by Jesus Christ. I understand, to the very limits of human thought, the unique transformation that he accomplished as he made himself divine, one with the Father. My sense of rightness is delighted by the beauty of the surface of the mystery that is the glorification – the putting off of his human, and making it divine.

This is the impact of Jesus’ work on the deepest layer of my spirit. I consciously experience awe, gratitude, and belonging to the whole grand human being. Jesus tells us that we have this experience because all of the goodness and truth of creation, embodied in the Word at its incarnation thousands of years ago, is all alive in him. As he walked the earth, so did the love and wisdom that created it all. Our sense of time and space, our physical self, is satisfied when Jesus acts out the prophecies of the Messiah. Our thoughtful self, and our need to think and explain, are satisfied by an understanding of the process of mission, a journey that includes an ordeal and a transformation when love, the energy of all creation, becomes our deepest intention embodied in our words and actions. And we are gifted with the presence of the divine, who has fulfilled, performed, accomplished, the completion of his creation: that we can have his love and wisdom actually in our hearts. We then experience him on all levels of life because he dwells with us.

 

Monday
Feb012016

Having Jesus in Your Heart 90

 

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup be taken away from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “You could not watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not enter a time of trial. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping, and taking your rest? But look—the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!” Matthew 26:36-46

 

“Hardly anyone can see what the battles of spiritual crisis accomplish. They are the means for dissolving and shaking off evil and falsity. They are also the means by which we develop a horror for evil and falsity, and gain not only conscience but strength of conscience; and this is the way we are reborn. For that reason, people who are regenerating are thrust into combat and undergo terrible trials—if not during their physical lives, then in the other life, assuming they can regenerate. In consequence, the Lord’s church is called the church militant. The Lord alone relied on his own strength or power to endure his spiritual crises and the savage conflicts they entailed. The hells all besieged him, and he continually gained total victory over them. It is the Lord alone who does the fighting in people facing their own spiritual battles, and who conquers. By our own power, we cannot accomplish anything at all against evil, hellish spirits, because they band together with the hells in such a way that if one hell were overcome the next would rush in to fill the void. This would continue forever. They are like the ocean beating on the individual stones in a jetty. If it managed to open a chink or a tiny crack in the jetty, it would never stop until it had broken down and overflowed the entire structure, leaving not a trace. That is how it would be if the Lord did not bear our battles by himself.” Secrets of Heaven §1692

“When we are fighting our spiritual battles, evil spirits are permitted to dredge up every vice and falsehood we possess and to use them as weapons. When these spirits have been overcome, though, they are no longer allowed to do so, because they instantly sense in us a strength of commitment to what is good and true. They have a keener perception of this strength than we do. When we commit ourselves to truth and goodness, the very air we project tells them right away how things stand, what type of response they are likely to receive, and so on. It is especially obvious with spiritually-oriented people who have been reborn; they have just as many evil spirits with them as the unregenerate, but the spirits are under their control and serve them.” Secrets of Heaven §1695

 

The blessing of having the Lord alive in our hearts is received when we have a sense of owning and using his goodness and truth in our thoughts, feelings, speech and actions. His love and wisdom are already resident in the deepest layers of our being from our creation, which is here called the soul. That is what sustains our existence regardless what happens even to eternity to our personality which clothes our soul.

The levels of our being that are exterior to our soul are, from our creation, both gifted and corrupted by the spiritual heredity from our parents, grandparents, and on and on. This explains the physical and personality traits that we see being passed from parents to children. Our accepting the ownership of the gifts of the Lord’s goodness and truth happens when our outer self lets go of all that it has acquired through living that contradicts that goodness and truth. This can be more or less difficult. The childish selfishness that toddlers exhibit, is regularly let go of by the time, for instance, that the teenager is giving of their substance and energy, of their own free will, to help the less fortunate. On the other hand, the fear and anxiety that results from an abusive or absent parent can be resolved only by many years of concerted work. And then there is the habit of self indulgence of instant gratification, no matter how benign, which can so distort the Lord’s offer of love and wisdom that it is not even recognized. That is when materialism and hedonism thoroughly warp one’s view of life.

A person can learn how to observe what is happening in their thoughts and emotions, and can recognize the ill effects of selfishness, materialism and hedonism. It is as if an inner level of our self is watching a lower level. Swedenborg has this description: “Our intermediate self senses what is going on in our outward self as if someone were reporting on it. The Lord was aware of everything that was happening [in his mind] and recognized clearly the nature and source of everything that emerged in him. If any evil monopolized the emotions of his outer self or any false idea monopolized his thinking, for instance, he always knew what its nature was and where it came from. He could also tell exactly which evil spirits were stirring it up, and how, besides much else. These kinds of details and countless others [can be known by people] who have a heavenly type of perception. So they would not escape the Lord’s attention.” (Secrets of Heaven §1701)

We have all experienced joy, anger, sadness and fear taking all our attention at one time or another. Clearly, there has always been because something precious to us, something we desire, something we love, that is being touched. Wonderfully, science is revealing so much to us about how this happens in our brains and bodies. When one is afraid, the brain tells the heart to race, the blood to go to the extremities, and the senses to become hypersensitive to sights and sounds. We can watch all this happen, and understand why we are afraid. We can rise above those sensations and remember that we are gifted by God with a soul and eternal life. That changes our perspective, and the fear diminishes, and our brain tells our body to return to normal.

So we know something about what Jesus was going through. But only a small portion. Jesus’ soul was a divine passion for the eternal well being of all humans. However, his mind, brain and body were of the same stuff as ours. to be sure, his experience of mortal life, clothing his divine soul, is a mystery to us. So the breadth, depth and strength of his anger and sadness as he prayed in the garden is unfathomable. His inner wishes were confronting the fear and anger at the circumstances around him. A part of him was calling him into action, and another part was overwhelmed by the thought of the coming pain, and the appearance of failure. The support of his fellow human beings, so carefully and energetically cultivated over the last three years, was absent. They were asleep, blissfully unaware of the impending doom.

We all know what that is like. For our inner thoughts and feelings are ours alone as well. And we experience the conflict between desires and realities. Yet, our bodies regularly reveal what is going on. The muscle ache, headache, inflammation, poor sleep, are all signs of inner distress. And there are visible signs, as well. The angry outburst, the irritable passive aggressive behavior, and falling asleep at work, are all observable signals of inner distress. And often those around us, maybe equally distressed, are “asleep” and are unhelpful by their comments or avoidant behavior.

Most of Jesus’ inner process is a mystery to us. He was, by his own power, disowning his personality, separating his soul Self from his earthly self by making his entire Person divine. Because this is the task of the infinite divine, we can never know what it was like. But we can watch him in the garden. The inner conflict was so stressful to his body that blood seeped through vessel walls and out pores in his skin. He could not sleep at all. Twice he sought relief through intense self observation of the grief and fear he was experiencing. He remembered God’s divine plan of which he was the lead actor, and the role he had to play. He decided to take that role on, freely, by his own power of choice and will. Becoming thus resolved and resolute, remembering his mission and regaining the perspective of the view from his divine soul, he reengaged with his outer senses, he was able to act. And he awakened all the resources he had cultivated by his practices in life.

Here is what is so wonderful: We can do what Jesus did! We can live a life of active prayer. That is, we can regularly rely on the power of God: remembering his love and wisdom; letting go of our puny power and perspective; returning again, and again, and again, to a practice of quieting our minds and bodies, asking God for his power again. We get that it is his power, not ours, AND we are freely, on our own, choosing it. And then we can persevere through the agony of fear, anger, and sadness produced by our mind’s lower, limited, view is that there is nothing but pain and loss ahead. Stop and imagine for a moment what that would be like – to dismiss the thought that we are hopeless and helpless; to remember that this is the night before the morning. That our brains can be changed to react differently. We can do that as we practice welcoming the Lord’s love and wisdom into our hearts, seeing our inner world, and the world around us, from his view, his desire, his light.

It is a mystery how we continue to live and do not die! But the miracle happens. We are reborn with a perspective, a point of view, from a deeper or higher level of our life. We are blessed by enjoying the gift that is now ours, of dwelling with God as he dwells in our hearts and minds.

 

Monday
Dec282015

Having Jesus in Your Heart 89

 

On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,

‘God will strike the Shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”

 Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same....

[The next morning, Jesus is being tried before Caiaphas, the high priest] Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.” But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. “I don’t even know the man,” he said. A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed.

Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly. Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75

God created us in such a way that our inner self is in the spiritual world and our outer self is in the physical world. Therefore to make us permanent and everlasting beings, God made us citizens of both worlds so that the spiritual part of us, which belongs in heaven, could be planted in the physical part belonging to this world the way a seed is planted in the ground. People who deny the existence of God close their inner selves on the side of the will and shut themselves off from its positive love. (The will in us is a vessel for love and becomes its dwelling place.) Their inner selves on the side of the intellect, however, a person is unable to close, because if they could and did they would no longer be human. But [evil] love in their will does befuddle their higher intellect with false ideas. As a result, their intellect becomes virtually closed to truths related to faith and good qualities related to goodwill and becomes more and more closed to the Lord and the spiritual teachings of the church. As a result, those denying the existence of God lose their partnership with angels in heaven. Once that is gone, they establish a partnership with satans in hell and think what the satans are thinking....In that state, their thought about God is that he does not exist – God is only a word intoned in the pulpit to constrain the lower classes to obey the laws of justice that are society's rules. The Word, the source of ministers' pronouncements about God, they see as a haphazard and fanciful text to which authorities have attributed holiness. The Ten Commandments or the Catechism they see as a little book that is to be tossed aside once it has been worn out by the hands of the young. After all, that book prescribes that we honor our parents, that we not murder, whore, steal, or testify falsely, and who does not know all that from civil law? The church they think of as nothing more than a herd of uneducated, gullible, and timid people, who [think they] see what they do not see....This is what their inner selves think, no matter how differently their outer selves may talk. For, as noted above, all people have an inner and an outer self. Their inner self is their real self, called their spirit. It is the part that lives after death. Their outer self, in which they practice hypocrisy through [apparent] morality, will be buried in the grave. True Christianity §14

 

We an idea we have is raised into the light of heaven, and we let go of it as our own, it is transformed into a spiritual reality, not just an idea of faith in our intellect. This process is symbolized by the Apostles following Jesus to the Mount of Olives. Jesus introduced them to the next phase of human spiritual growth: challenge, ordeal, and inevitable failure, which is necessary. My personality must experience the darkness of the grave, and a humbling experience, that is resolved into a new humility, a resurrection of a new self, a transformation of the materialistic self into a spiritual self.

Our God has become incarnate precisely to walk along with us through this trial and death. Jesus promised it many times, and he does it here again. Human nature has not changed in 2000 years, has it? The Apostles couldn’t hear his message of hope, either. As we develop spiritually, we more easily and quickly remember that the approaching work is rewarding, and we will not do it alone. Yet, early in the process, we would fain enter the trial, and feel very much alone. This is why the Apostles pbjected. And Peter especially as he is the archetype of our belief systems, our faith, our understanding, our intellect. The death we are contemplating is an assault upon our faith, by which we identify ourselves. The death of that self, that personality, is indeed terrifying.

Our sense of ourselves sets us up to resist such a change. Addicts know this intimately. We are sure that we can make the necessary changes on one’s own, of one’s own volition. And then that we can hold onto the new way of being. In fact, our reliance upon our intellect, our faith is what makes the change impossible, and any change made unsustainable. This is what Jesus is predicting for Peter. Only after the divine intervention saves us can we look back and be remorseful for what we missed or put aside as valueless. The humbling we experience as we discover that our self reliance was what had to die is what brings us into the power of the love and wisdom of God, as we have come to know them through the work of Jesus Christ in and around us.

Our intellect itself is feeble. God created us with a dual consciousness just so we could advance in our love and wisdom. So it is necessary that we have a distinct intellect. It develops over time by collecting ideas that we call our own. And, in our fallen nature, we identify ourselves as those concepts, many of which are true and deep. It is through the process of letting go of ownership of those ideas that we open our hearts to God’s love flowing into and through us, unimpeded by our insignificant understanding of truth.

An example is our belief in God. I pride myself in being able to reach the limits of my finitude in talking about the infinity of God! Another example is my idea of revelation. I am filled with awe as I contemplate the beauty and depth of God’s Word. Whenever I get a chance to talk about the nature of God, or how his Word operates to reveal him, I delight in bringing this knowledge to those who don’t have it. I craft my speech to match the other person’s experience and intelligence. It feels so good to know more than the other person, so that I can help them become more advanced. I have a pride about my work, cultivating the network of fellow believers, sharing best practices and most effective speeches.

You see where this has gone and where it is headed. Eventually my intellect will isolate me with those who agree with me and use the same terminology. And then we will begin to exclude those who are different. And then we will make ourselves the protectors of the faith, challenging all who disagree or use a different language. I am convinced that this path inevitably leads to my justifying destroying other people, perhaps by ruining their reputations, or taking away their legitimacy, or even killing them.

Jesus tells us here that resistance to the challenges to our faith is not the point. Rather, we are to find a way to acknowledge our relationship with God, to acknowledge our need of his love and wisdom. Like Peter, we go from a relatively external, cognitive relationship with the Lord, to an inner, emotional relationship. In the process we will be devastated by the weakness of our merely external, cognitive faith.

There is a letting go of our own status and ownership, especially when our desire to be liked urges us to let go of the love and wisdom God is offering. Let us hold as sacred moments those times we are humbled by our failures. Let us really hear “the rooster’s crowing” as the opportunity to feel the terrible angst of our self-centeredness, and then to grieve, and then to return from the journey into darkness with more wisdom, more resolve. Like a sudden cock crowing, there will be a shock to our consciousness; a new realization. We are then better prepared to confront the next false sense of ownership with a quicker reaction time because we will be reception of some small amount more of the Lord’s love flowing into and through us as we will have lived with him, and he with us, a little bit longer, a bit more consciously. He will, as he promised, be dwelling in our heart.

 

Saturday
Nov282015

Having Jesus in Your Heart 88

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” “As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.

When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?” He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!” Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?” And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. Matthew 26:17-30

 

“It is well known that three things are essential to the church—God, goodwill, and faith—and that all the specific teachings and practices go back to these three essentials as the universal qualities that underlie them....The soul or mind is a vessel for receiving the Lord (its life comes from him); the will is a vessel for receiving love or goodness; and the intellect is a vessel for receiving wisdom or truth. As a result, each and every attribute of our soul or mind does not merely relate to the three universal qualities of heaven and the church but actually emanates from them. Name something that human beings accomplish without using the mind, the will, or the intellect. If even one of these three were removed, would we be more than some soulless creature?...Therefore each and every part of us has been formed in a general way and also in specific to be a vessel for the three universal qualities of heaven and the church. The reason for this is that we have been created to be an image and likeness of God, so that we can be in the Lord and the Lord can be in us....Being redeemed means being liberated from hell, forming a partnership with the Lord, and being saved....Moved as he is by his divine love, he would prefer to give us all of these gifts [at once]. Instead we are given them in accordance with our own receptivity; however receptive we are, that is how far the process of redemption takes us.” True Christianity §712, §717

 

Try to put yourself at that low table in the upper room with Jesus Christ at the last meal you had with him. He has become more than a teacher. He has put off the role of revolutionary. He has brought you once more to the most powerful and holy ritual you have experienced. He has signaled the end, which is going to be traumatic. He has made a promise of success, of victory, of overcoming, but it does not look that way to you. Surely Judas felt it most powerfully as he left the table to play his terrible role.

Returning to this present moment, what I want to continually remember is that I am blessed to be living in the this new age. While the suffering I must experience in order to be redeemed may be no less than those at the table, my heart is also filled with the conclusion of the story. I know about the victory, which draws me through my dark times, even those betrayals of his love that separate me from his love. I live an experience of being redeemed. We have been “created to be an image and likeness of God, so that we can be in the Lord and the Lord can be in us.” Remember that! His love is in me, simply because I am created to have his love as part of my spiritual DNA.

The process for me to experience that love is described by Jesus as he approaches the completion of his task. “My time” is a euphemism for the coming trial. Having the place to eat is a certain state of mind and heart in the process. Modern science has noticed that the heart muscle reacts to a physical threat before the brain does! So, we now know, spiritually, even as the heart responds before the thought, so our desire responds before our understanding. There is a moment when “my time is at hand,” and we respond. Our heart softens – if only a little – and we open the mental door of our beliefs, our dogma, and accept the love that will redeem and save us. Our task is to pause and take a moment to respond to that next notion, that new thought that arises in our mind, that reminds us that the Lord’s love is coming, and so prepare a room in our minds and hearts for him to come and connect with us. We make the effort to prepare the intellectual and emotional space for God to offer us his divine wisdom and love.

To have this experience includes letting go of some of my most cherished notions, opinions, and points of view. While these are actually peripheral to authentic spiritual love and life, I often experience them as essential and definitive. To let go of my need to be right, for instance, in order to protect what is good and innocent, is a very difficult task. To let go of what I see clearly to be the right order for the world, looks and feels to be derelict in my duty to God. There is a sense that someone or something is betraying me. The last breath of this self-generated life will be the owning of my responsibility for the wrongs I have committed, the stubbornness that separates me from God. At first I look elsewhere for the thief who has taken my delight, my joy. There is a Judas somewhere out there. And then Jesus reminds me that my betrayer is within me, among my own desires and beliefs. I eat from the same table. I must see how I betray the Lord in order for me to actually connect with him and experience his unfailing, unconditional love.

So there is a healing available to me. I simply (if with difficulty) take in the Lord’s love, believe his notions of right and wrong. I share the cup of faith and the bread of life with him. He at the same moment feeds all my other ideas and desires (including, it appears, the most challenging of ideas symbolized by Judas!) in such a way that I am so connected to his goodness and wisdom, that I actually take them into my mind and heart. I feel fed by his love, mercy, wisdom and truth.

Of course there must be future meals. This food satisfies my soul for its due time. I will need another infusion of his love and truth. As a finite, natural being – surely clothing a spiritual being – the Lord knows I will need reminders, and new insights, that he may continue to abide in my conscious and unconscious life.

My heart filled with love that accepts his description of the good life “confirms the covenant between God” and me. He is then abiding in my heart, and I am alive in him! I have Jesus in my heart, just as he has promised I will!

Monday
Nov022015

Having Jesus in Your Heart 87

Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”

But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” Matthew 26:6-13

 

“The reason why ‛the head’ means the whole Human, or the whole person, is that everything in the human being comes down from the head; for the body is an extension from the head. Therefore also what a person thinks or wills, an activity that takes place in the head, presents itself in the body as an effect....From this it is evident that since God is the inmost in all things, or what amounts to the same thing, is the highest of them all, from Him alone comes the life that all things possess. Therefore insofar as a person receives what is of God he has life within him.” Secrets of Heaven §10011

“‛The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the gospel’ (Mark 1:15). The gospel here means the good news that we can be regenerated and therefore saved. This would not have been possible if the Lord had not brought about redemption, that is, if he had not taken power away from hell through battles against it and victories over it, and if he had not glorified his human manifestation, that is, made it divine.” True Christianity §581

 

Before and after this precious, sacred moment of anointing, the Gospel of Matthew tells us the jarring, profane story of the arrangement to betray Jesus. The disparity of the two could not be more dramatic. There is here the hopeful message that always within the turmoil of my outer life there is an inner place of peace. That no matter how events may destroy the holiness of life in me, I have an inner experience of the sacredness of God’s love.

And then, again right within the story, is an awesome display of how the Lord’s entire intention is the unification of the many aspects – the many “selves,” the many levels of being – that make up the human constitution, by the description of two disparate ways of being. We see within and around us many obvious dualities: physical/spiritual; punishment/mercy; desire/thought; impulse/judgment. Picture this: Mary, the woman whose devotion was complete when her brother Lazarus was raised from the dead – the same woman who sat at his feet rather than join her sister in service – this Mary enters a neighbor’s house in Bethany with a finely crafted stone flask, breaks the wax seal of its lid, and gently pours the precious, scented anointing oil upon Jesus’ head, likely using her other hand to disperse the oil carefully in his hair, not wanting to let a single drop fall away from its purpose, and using it all up. And then, an obvious contrast, the Apostles’ complaint. 

We can easily observe the variety of manifestations of our selves: at one moment assessing value and comparing; at another strategizing for the optimum results; at another generously pouring out its spirit from the heart. We all make evident so many distinct ways of being at different moments. Generally said, we will advance in our reception of the Lord’s love in our hearts in accordance as we acknowledge these various aspects, seeking an attitude of acceptance and even welcome. We can achieve a unity of mind, heart and action as we engage in this process. Our self becomes supple, growing, accepting, transforming.

Shall we then look to give glory to God as Mary did? Intellectually, we understand very well that no honor we can bestow upon our Savior can add to the value of his love, nor will it attract a greater grace from him. Whenever we make that calculation, our next mental effort needs to be an experience of gratitude, of unappraised generosity, so engaging our entire self. There is an ongoing assessment/acceptance cycle. One without the other will leave our self spiritually unsatisfied, unprepared for receiving the Lord, and undeveloped in our embodiment of his love.

Scientists have observed a structure in the brain that is presumed to perform “executive functions” of judgment, through which our more primitive mammalian impulses are filtered and managed. It seems to me that God created this part of the brain to support our spiritual judgments. So it is typical for us to assess the value of thoughts, feelings and actions. What is necessary for our reformation and regeneration, as Jesus is teaching here, is that our executive function supports the deeper, perhaps even more essentially human, ability to express generosity, gratitude, empathy and sympathy. So the lesson Jesus is offering is that our loving determines value, while our judgments direct the impulse of our loving, as actualized in our speech and behavior.

When we embody only our assessment of rightness and wrongness, we will experience our self as judgmental, dualistic, literalistic, rigid and stuck. When we embody only our impulse to love, we will experience our self as unregulated, unsettled, avoidant, limp and undirected. Jesus suggests a third way, unitive of the “Mary” self and the “Apostle” self; the love and the intellect; the impulsive and the judgmental; the female and the male.

We ought to be delighted by the pregnancy of Jesus’ allusion to the poor. “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” Let us resist cynicism while acknowledging the reality of the persistence of poverty in the world; and be resolved to continue efforts to alleviate the suffering of the poor. And then further, let us be thoroughly convinced by the realization that our spirit would be forever impoverished if it were not for the continuing presence of the Lord himself within our hearts and minds; our work ought to be to welcome that presence as that which is necessary to the enriching of our lives.

Our impulse to relieve the world’s suffering by purposeful action, and the impulse to relieve our own suffering by acceptance of the Lord, are both noble works and, taken together, fulfill the promise made by the woman who gave of her precious substance to honor Jesus in preparation of his sacrifice for us. Let us notice the objections we make to the Lord’s strategy to live in us, and so come to experience his abiding in our hearts.