The Resurrection: Freedom to Forgive
The experience of John, the Evangelist (a first person account)
Coming down Mount Tabor, with Peter and my brother James,
I soon realised that we are creatures driven to distraction.
Fighting for places in the kingdom,
unable to accept that Jesus would suffer and die,
we so easily blotted out of our consciousness
the experience of having seen the Lord transfigured.
We were so much like Adam and Eve
who having experienced the great mutation
when the LORD had breathed into them his spirit,
were so fascinated, that their mortal bodies were now
the in-dwelling of his boundless Spirit,
that they became, inward looking, narcissistic
and sought to enclose it within themselves.
The ‘awareness of being in God’ had, in a moment of distraction
been transformed into self-awareness.
This bore an uncanny resemblance
to our wanting to ‘possess’ the experience.
“Lord, it is good for us to be here.” 1
Immersed in the prospect of what we could be,
we had lost an awareness of who we actually were.
I had covered myself with layer upon layer
of clothing in various disguises –
relevance, magnificence and power being the undergarments –
seeking to perpetuate my own glory.
Little did we realise that while we followed him
in a supposed relationship of discipleship,
in his footsteps, often walking beside him,
that we were still in relationship with ourselves.
We thought we had made a ‘choice’ in following him
How wrong he proved us to be.
I slowly began to realise, after that fateful descent
that following Jesus was not so much of a choice
as allowing his presence within us, more and more
to resonate with God’s continuous Self-giving
now enfleshed in human form.
“You have not chosen me, I have chosen you,” 2
He would later say.
To allow oneself to be ‘drawn back” by God
into that state of original innocence
is best expressed by the word “passive”.
Not doing, but “letting it be done”.
The Latin verb ‘patior’ is significantly
grammatically passive, but with an ‘active’ connotation.
It is quite the opposite of inertia.
His Passion, His Suffering, His Letting Go
His Leaving self-behind, are all appropriately synonyms.
As I stood by the Cross that first Good Friday
with Mary his Mother, at my side,
I had ascended another mountain at Golgotha
and piercing through the veil of his suffering,
as I looked upon his bruised and battered body,
beheld the very same face that revealed his glory.
I learned that to work towards doing away
with suffering of others, is a distraction
whenever it subtly reflects our desire, even if unawares,
to be socially relevant, powerful and manipulative in so doing.
Jesus does not do away with suffering; he transforms it.
It is the only way to prevent the persecuted from becoming the persecutor
and breaks the cycle of reciprocal violence that might otherwise ensue.
It is the self which sees itself as a victim,
bound as it is by its own compulsions to preserve itself.
Jesus shows us that we can mitigate the pain of others,
but not do away with their suffering, only transform it.
Suffering as the obverse of victimhood is a product of the self
Leaving that self behind unmasks suffering
showing it to be the illusion created by the equally illusory self.
How rightly has it been said that
we are not to pity those who suffer, but rather
those who do not know how to suffer.
The distinguishing trait of those who know
is the ability to forgive as Jesus did.
Having no sense of victimhood, in the dissolution of the self;
keeping no account of wrong doing,
in the ‘freedom” we have not to call it to mind,
unbound like Lazarus, we experience the freedom to BE.
Every act of forgiveness thus becomes
a Resurrection moment, leaving self behind.
In inner freedom, we cease to look upon others
as ‘unfortunate’ victims and in a curious way,
give them perhaps for the first time
the freedom to truly BE themselves
by transforming their own suffering.
“Was not the Messiah bound to suffer in this way
before entering his glory?”3
“Do this as a memorial of me.”4
1 Corinthians 11:24