The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed, go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)
In case His listeners missed the point, Jesus spelled it out: “Today this scripture is fulfilled among you.” It is quite telling that the professional religious of His day, the scribes and Pharisees, became enraged at His proclamation. They were enraged at the beginning of His ministry and even more so at the end of His public life. Indeed, enraged enough to become the catalyst which propels the events which culminate in the crucifixion of Christ.
Why Are The Pharisees So Angry?
The Pharisees saw themselves as experts on God; they are so full of pride, they cannot humble themselves enough to recognize the presence of God in their midst. They secretly are intent on playing the role of God themselves by saving themselves with their knowledge and religious exercises. In fact, they do not think they need a saviour at all because they are pure in their own eyes.
As Jesus reminds us in the Gospels, only the sick need a physician, only a sinner needs a saviour. Only the humble person can even acknowledge his weakness, his sin, his need for salvation. Only the humble can open their eyes long enough to see reality and to ask for help, accept help, accept Divine intervention in their lives.
Do I stand among the righteous, pure, self-sufficient ones? Or do I stand with the poor in spirit, those captive to their woundedness, those blind to much of spiritual reality, and those oppressed in the face of their innate sinfulness?
Do I need to be saved, and am I humble enough to ask for help? If I can’t, then Jesus died in vain, the power of His crucifixion is wasted on me and I will be unable to rejoice on Easter Sunday nor receive the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. I will not rise with Him daily into the fullness of new life, a life hidden in Christ.
Thank God for my kids, because they shook me out of phony piety by stripping away distractions, stripping my life down to the basics and forcing me to turn to Christ the Saviour in desperation. I was a perfectionist who strove to raise polite, godly children and keep an immaculate house. It took living on a limited income with nine kids, a husband struggling with depression, and overwhelming chores on a small hobby farm to bring me to my knees. Only when I experienced Christ’s redemption could I experience the Resurrection and say with joy, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”
Strip Away the Superfluous
As I mothered a large family, something I considered essential was eliminated from my life with the birth of each successive child. Painting portraits went with my firstborn. Other births gave the boot to crafts, dusting, making bread, cooking interesting meals, and folding laundry. As every mother knows, a newborn takes at least eight hours a day to nurse, burp, rock, comfort, bath, and change, and that’s before you wash diapers, clothes, receiving blankets, sheets, and baby blankets. Then you have to deal with your own clothes, which tend to get covered in vomit and other nasty surprises. The lack of sleep leads to a rather narrow existence; the best days are when you can sneak in a 10-minute nap or shower and dress before noon. Those were the days when life was reduced to the basics.
Those basics were miraculous when I relaxed and allowed myself to live in the moment, enjoying my newborn and loving my other children rather than bemoaning all the important activities I couldn’t seem to even start.
In the same way, we all strip off the superficial we discover what is important in life. Then, we are able to connect more to the heart of our Beloved.
I am thankful for all the suffering in my life because it has brought me closer to God.
Copyright 2019 Melanie Jean Juneau