Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I went to my centering prayer group on Monday and before prayer, we read from a book. What we're on right now is Thomas Keating's The Mystery of Christ. This is a deep read that I can only take a small bite at a time, mainly cuz it's packed with info. We read over the Passion in Mark 15:22-38 and then over some of the thing Keating says about it. What really struck me and still strikes me every Lenten season, is what is being called the double-bind. I'm sure we all experience it on our spiritual journey at some point, but no one ever experienced it to the degree that Jesus did. The double-bind is a crisis of principle that brings about an overwhelming problem of conscience. Two apparent duties that call out for total adherence seem to be in complete opposition to each other. 

A classic example is in the book of Job. Job struggles with the problem of innocent suffering. He knows he is innocent, yet everything has been taken from him. His buddies keep telling him to admit that he has sinned, so God will forgive and take away his suffering. His double-bind consisted of trying to avoid accusing God of injustice and at the same time remaining faithful to his conscience which told him that he had done nothing wrong. 

No one ever knew God the way Jesus knew him. Jesus knew it was all about relationship: a community of persons sharing infinite life and love. Jesus had that relationship with God and tried to transmit it to his disciples. Jesus never suffered from the feeling of separation from God that is our experience as we come to rational consciousness. This feeling of separation is the source of our deep sense of incompletion, guilt and alienation. 

Jesus took this on himself. As Paul writes, "He who knew no sin was made sin for our salvation." Jesus' double-bind is the choice: "Am I to become sin and thus renounce my personal relationship with Abba?" Or "Am I to become sin and thus experience separation from the One who is my whole life?"

Something to think about as we wait with Jesus this week is what his dread was. Not so much the prospect of physical suffering but the impending loss of his personal relationship with the One who meant everything to him.

I'm telling you Keating makes you think.

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