Reflection for February 1st, 2015 by Ewelina Frackowiak

Fourth Sunday in Orinary Time

 

“I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the name of the shop: THE TRUTH SHOP. The saleswoman was very polite: What type of truth did I wish to purchase, partial or whole? The whole truth, of course. No deceptions for me, no defenses, no rationalizations. I wanted my truth plain and unadulterated. She waved me on to another side of the store. The salesman there pointed to the price tag. “The price is very high, Sir,” he said. “What is it?” I asked, determined to get the whole truth, no matter what it costs. “Your security, Sir,” he answered.  I came away with a heavy heart. I still need the safety of my unquestioned beliefs.”

(from Anthony de Mello “The Song of the Bird”)

Jesus from today’s gospel and from the gospel in general appears as somebody who gave up the safety of beliefs, who is vulnerable. Only a vulnerable person can speak with authority and had such an impact on listeners. If someone speaks with true authority that means she is
fearless, not afraid of losing anything, because she has nothing to lose…
Although, Jesus spoke with authority, he did not request obedience from his listeners. He rather wanted us to discover the same source of authority in us, the same capability of fearlessness and life in truth. What such life is like?

I think that in such life we recognize that we are bigger than the stories which we tell ourselves about ourselves. We accept that our beliefs do not define us, our work does not define us, our successes or failures – nothing define us. You see, sometimes it is like “we are perceiving ourselves as a cluster of ocean waves, not recognizing that we are made of ocean. When we realize that our true self is ocean, the familiar pattern of waves – our fears and defensiveness, our wants and busyness – remains a part of us but does not define us”. (from Tara Brach “True Refuge. Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Mind”, p. 20)

For years and years I was sure that something was wrong with me. Whatever I started, whether it was a graduate school, a job or a hobby, I feared that my new colleagues will sooner or later realize that I am a fake. It took me time to recognize that this is just one of the narratives that
my mind creates, a narrative fed to me in my childhood, a story that I somehow internalized.

Whatever a narrative we create about ourselves or the world around, if we do not recognize that this is just a story of our mind, we limit ourselves, we limit our perception of the world, since we want our experiences to confirm whatever the story line is. And we isolate ourselves. In such a place of isolation, we may feel threaten by the spontaneity and vulnerability of others. Just as the man in today’s gospel was, the one whom the evangelist described as someone with an unclean spirit. The man saw Jesus as a threat. Again we sense that Jesus has power but his power is not to control and manipulate but is instead the power of powerless love.

(cf. “The Theology of Dorothee Soelle”, ed. S. K. Pinnock, p. 120, 121)

Jesus did not respond directly to the man as if he recognized that the man’s behaviour did not come from his true-self. The man’s reaction to Jesus was a reaction by somebody caught up in fear, and maybe shame and anger. Now it is the time for the man to awake the same awareness of who he is and of who he is not. Time to recognize that the preacher from Galilee has love to offer. That he himself has love to offer, too.