WEDNESDAY OF LENT WEEK 1
“The truth is we are Christ.” What does this mean? What difference does it make? And how can we develop this insight?
It challenges the autocracy of any ego-centred universe. We don't need to look far today to see the consequences of autocracy. But inasmuch as each person is a microcosm of humanity, we can be ruled by the ego’s belief in its absolute individuality. Seeing the individual as a customer rather than a citizen is pumped into us from childhood by our system of wealth competition and acquisition and the consumerism it uses to achieve it.
What does it mean to be a citizen? We are parts of the whole: but the whole is equally part of us and in this reality we are all diversely one. This insight flooded into the minds of the early Christians. If what they were beginning to understand about him was true, then the world as they had known it before was forever changed. ‘In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor master, male or female’. All the distinctions upon which hierarchy and autocracy depend dissolve ‘in Christ.
St Augustine saw this when he examined a line of Psalm 60: "I cried out to you from the ends of the earth while my heart was in anguish". He asks "is this an individual speaking?. No, he said, it is no longer one person: or rather it is one in the sense that Christ is one and we are all his members. It is ‘this unity that we are’ that cries from the ends of the earth.
This is the shift of perception that answers the sceptic's question, ‘how can God allow all this to happen?’. Don’t look for God behind the cosmic computer. Find God in the cry of the poor, the troubled, those resisting tyranny. God’s presence is grace working in the mud and mess we make for ourselves in the illusions of individuality.
Lent is a time to concentrate on the details and immediacy of the spiritual quality of our lives rather than on big abstractions. Grounded in that reality, we can better see grace at work, not in the geopolitics game, but in every small act of kindness which expresses our intuition that ‘this unity is what we really are’. Even when our individual lives or interests are threatened, or simply stuck in our sadness, we are miraculously capable of such acts of kindness that say ‘you are my kin’.
John Main once said that the best way to prepare for meditation is by making small acts of kindness in daily life. Through them we see the whole picture in which we exist.
Lenten Reflections 2022