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Breaking out of the Cage


The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Luke 11:47-54....
Jesus said: "Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,' so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering." When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
Sacred Space's commentary on this Scripture struck a chord in me today....
  • The history of humankind has many examples of prophetic people who suffered death for the truth. Jesus himself was to suffer because of the non acceptance of his message. It is a great freedom to be open to the truth and not be embedded in our own prejudices.
  • I ask the Lord for the kind of security in my relationship with him that enables me to be more open-minded.
First off, the Scripture and commentary makes me wonder: what prophets do you or I have a hard time hearing today? It is all too easy as religious people to celebrate the past, especially when we think we are sure about who was right and who was wrong. It is a lot harder to be open to the leading of the Spirit in the present. In this regard, I think of the seven last words of the church: "We never did it that way before."

Secondly, I have noticed in examining my spiritual life that when I was younger I was much more reactionary. My reactions, I think, had a lot to do with my own insecurities. I was, unbeknownst to myself, insecure in what I believed, and so I looked for structures in the church and elsewhere that made me feel secure. This is why I think many people all around the world are drawn to expressions of fundamentalism in various religions. When you are a fundamentalist you know where you stand at all times and thus you don't have to really think very much. But if you have a sensitive conscious at all, then your self-imposed cage will be rattled from time to time by friendly visitors from outside your religious box.

After a few such rattlings, I find I am no longer a fundamentalist. However, at the same time, I believe I have grown deeper in my relationship with Jesus. I have grown in such a way that I can listen to the experiences of others, whether Christian or not, I can respect and honor those experiences, without feeling threatened in my own spirituality.

How about you? Can you identify at all with the "hardening of the categories" experienced by the Pharisees that resulted in their rejection of anything new, including Jesus? If so, how perhaps has God led you out of that hard place into a new space of freedom, gentleness, and openness that finds security in a relationship with God more than in a hard and fast religious identity?

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