Thursday, October 21, 2021
Katie Snipes Lancaster
How can we thank God enough
in return for all the joy that we feel
before our God
because of you?
1 Timothy 3:9
A Look at Joy
I’ve long been struck by the question of why it should be that in Jesus’s relatively short human life certain events and experiences seemed to come to him while others did not. He certainly lived in a very intense way the ordeals of betrayal, abandonment, homelessness, and death.
Did it have to be like that? If he were indeed here on a divine mission, it would seem that he could have been given an easier career path: chief priest, political leader, the Messiah that people expected him to be. From any of these launching pads he would have been well positioned to “put his teachings out there” and impact the consciousness of his times in a really significant way.
But none of these opportunities materialized. Why not? Because the path he did walk is precisely the one that would most fully unleash the transformative power of his teaching. It both modeled and consecrated the eye of the needle that each one of us must personally pass through in order to accomplish the “one necessary thing” here, according to his teaching: to die to self. I am not talking about literal crucifixion, of course, but I am talking about the literal laying down of our “life,” at least as we usually recognize it.
Our only true essential human task here, Jesus teaches, is to grow beyond the survival instincts of the animal brain and egoic operating system into the kenotic joy and generosity of full human personhood. His mission was to show us how to do this. It was a mission he freely accepted. And the energy of his freedom is what ultimately raises the passion above all the emotional trappings and reveals it as a sacred path of liberation.
(Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—a New Perspective on Christ and His Message Shambala: 2008).
In you, O Christ, let us find freedom,
a divine freedom that comes
when we lay down our life for one another.
Show us this path of liberation.