Tuesday, April 3, 2012

False Expectations and the Paschal Mystery

"The only way you can be delivered from that sin is to have your false expectations destroyed, once and for all. And that is precisely what happened between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Jesus drew the false, sinful expectations of the world unto himself, absorbed them, and bore them on the cross. His death was the death of all of our false expectations, and therefore his death was the death of sin itself. The false piety of Palm Sunday is crucified on Good Friday and buried that night, in order that true faith in God might be created on Easter through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."   - Edwin Peterman

What a thought-provoking statement. What false expectations could he be talking about?

Maybe the ones that assume we won't experience suffering, if we "do life right."
...the ones that assume that, if we are as good as we know how to be, we won't make mistakes.
...that people will love us, if we do our best, with best intentions.
...that our savings will grow, so we will have a "comfortable" retirement.
...that if we pray, we will get what we want.
...that our children will be safe, if we take good care of them and follow the wisdom at hand.
...that if we just lost that last 5 pounds, had that pair of jeans, owned that car, got that job, looked like "her," had that degree, believed the right things, that we would feel better.
...that if we eat right and "take care of ourselves," we won't really have to face death.

From my own experience, there is a huge difference between consenting to BELIEVE the paschal mystery and consenting to EXPERIENCE the paschal mystery. I believed it; I believed that Jesus went through it to show us how much he and God loved us. I did NOT believe that he went through it to show me how to do it...and yet he said, "I Am the Way."

Now, because of what I learned with Katie (and my family) on her cancer journey, I believe that Jesus consented to going through the humiliation, beating, abandonment, the way of the cross and tomb, in love and obedience to God - and out of love for all of us. He took that path in order to show me what I was going to have to do myself...what we will all be called to do, in some way, at some time...To let go of what we think we cannot live without,
and embrace what God, who is Love, is giving us:  Himself.
"Christians speak of the "paschal mystery," the process of loss and renewal that was lived and personified in the death and raising up of Jesus. We can affirm that belief in ritual and song, as we do in the Eucharist. However, until we have lost our foundation and ground, and then experience God upholding us so that we come out even more alive on the other side, the expression "paschal mystery" is little understood and not essentially transformative.
Crucifix, Cinque Terre, Italy
"Paschal mystery is a doctrine that we Christians would probably intellectually* assent to, but it is not yet the very cornerstone of our life philosophy. That is the difference between belief systems and living faith. We move from one to the other only through encounter, surrender, trust and an inner experience of presence and power."  - From Richard Rohr's  Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, p. 62, 63
[*from Karen: I would venture to add that though we might intellectually assent to it, we may not see it as a positive doctrine as we are going through it. We will more likely feel as if we are being asked to die.]

"Faith is a journey into darkness, into not-knowing." ~ Richard Rohr

If God is Love, then that darkness is not a place of fear, but of love.

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