Thursday, October 19, 2006
It is uncharacteristic of Jesus to get into an academic debate. The logical process called “reason” has a short lifespan. It rarely brings about a spiritual dimension. The problem with reason is that it is only satisfied with the obvious and the status quo. It cannot gather things outside of its grasp. These things it calls nonsense, rubbish or unbelievable, are so named because they are not named. The questions we ask of God are much the same. “Who is my neighbour?” and by that we assume we will get a list of people, fat, thin, grumpy, and funny. A tight list, all nicely cut, dried, and tied up with string. It is what we like you and I? A + B = C. Aristotle would have been proud with an introduction, argument and a conclusion but not the rough parable speaking Rabbi called Jesus. I love this God-man Jesus, he puts our thinking to other uses. He transports us from logic to love as quickly as a mother puts her child to sleep with a story. He is very good with stories. A road traversing the steepest of mountainside is cavernous with the meanest of thief who bashed the living daylights out of an unsuspecting traveler. For what reason nobody knows, but the man lies naked, red in dust with only a vulture for hope. His only rescue comes when he feels the shadow of a man pass cold over him, but before the word can come to his tongue the shadow has passed as fleeting as the bird cries ahead. Another came and went, a trail of lame, unloving holy prayer, leaving only the bitter scent of betrayal. That is until another shadow fell upon his body that did not move, it stopped, a voice, a touching hand, and an ointment searing but soothing the fleshy wounds. When at last Jesus finished his story at a nearby inn, the shadow was none less than the shadow of the man you would least expect. That person whose kind you had never shared a meal with. The one who others called a traitor, an enemy, an outcast, a man whose faith you often scorned. Jesus redefined this shadow into the face of mercy, and we the listeners, as those before us sit back aghast, to throw our reason to the wind. There is no rightful reason not to have mercy, there is no religious reason to define who belongs and who doesn’t belong. In all this the great story teller is helping us take our fence cutters and eliminate the confounded boundaries that stagnate love and grace. We need to look at each other unhindered and allow the mercy of God move freely between our communal needs.