Finding Jesus Hidden in the Gospels (meeting Jesus again, AGAIN for the first time

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I have been haunted by a messianic* specter — a presence would not let me go… spooked by effete and bankrupt theologies, doctrines, and dogmas that have accrued to the legend / mythology of the one called Jesus Christ…  The supernatural phantom parading as Wonder Worker, Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild, Jeee-zus!, Personal Savior, God, … has not worked for me. And yet I keep seeking… looking…  hoping…  And in my search that messianic specter keeps rising up within, energizing me and drawing me out, as if wanting me to release it from its prison. John Caputo might call that messianic* specter an insistence in the name of God. Perhaps. Whatever it is called, ‘it spooks!’

Caputo (along with Peter Rollins and others) has loosened the soil around the root system of my Self, allowing movement and flexibility as it works to integrate my consciousness with my unconscious — the light and dark within. Even so, he did not get to the heart of the matter — breathing life into the corpse of Yeshua that has been moldering in the church. That fresh breath has issued forth from Elizabeth Boyden Howes’ Jesus’ Answer to God. Rather than focus on the exterior dynamics of Jesus’ answer to humanity, Howes reading of the gospel accounts (flavored by her training as a Jungian analyst) hones in on the interior journey and struggles faced by Yeshua*. Her reading is cogent and compelling. Yeshua* is continually at work confronting, transforming, and integrating the darkness within — a “continual operative dialogue between himself and God moving to more consciousness.” This inner dialogue and transformation is the germinal messianic moving toward birth. That messianic* enterprise (or God process) is not the private property of Yeshua*. His message is that it is available to all of us. He is a catalyst, not the chemist. His presence (physical or metaphoric) energizes those with whom he comes into contact. His is a transformative presence.

The first six chapters of Jesus’ Answer to God lay the foundation, walking us through Yeshua’s* baptism and wilderness experience, his dealing with the traditions of Israel within which he lived, his understanding of forgiveness and the Kingdom of God, his role as healing symbol (rather than Healer), and his self-understanding of his role vis-a-vis the messianic expectations of Israel. So much of Howes’ offering was eye-opening and breath-taking. As I read through chapter seven (Yeshua’s* choosing to go to Jerusalem) it all seemed to fall into place. Yeshua* distanced himself from Israel’s expectations of a Messiah, replacing that archetype with the Son of Man* — “a special indwelling quality of judgment for actions” which is inherent in the inner dialogue between a person and God. Yeshua* is the all-inclusive one who reminds us that we must “sell all” for the sake of the kingdom.

The image of Yeshua* that inhabits Howes’ book is that of a growing, transforming human being who is passionate for finding God within and, through enduring interior dialogue, to engage others in a like transformation that is the essence of the Commonwealth* of Peace and Justice.

Beneath the Messiah Mask,

underneath the Savior Screen,

behind the Christ Cloud…

lies a real human being —

Yeshua*…

a poignant

passionate

persistent

Human Being*

who is grounded in the divine

open to the mystery

a symbol for healing, and

a catalyst for the messianic.

AND Yeshua*

grounds me in the divine

opens me to the mystery

is a symbol for my healing

catalyzes my messianism*

is the God-process* for me

opening me to the necessity

and possibility of integrating

my light and darkness

the good and bad in me.

I have been ambivalent toward Yeshua*…

uncomfortable with the Jeee-zus CHRIST

This animated image proclaimed by most Christians —

Savior who took my place

Messiah who fulfilled the hopes of Israel

Christ who is God incarnate

Son of God who knows all

That Yeshua* seemed unreal

lifeless

inert

incapable of bringing life

of inspiring transformation

of stirring deep passions.

That Yeshua* is actually

a figment of the imagination of the church

throughout the years…

theological reflection, doctrine, dogma

based on a biased reading of scripture

finding what the church wanted to find

missing the real, live human being

that was Yeshua*.

This animated, determined, striking individual

confronted and confounded

the religious and political leaders of his day

just as he

confronts and confounds

the religious and political leaders of our day…

though not many sense

the confrontation and confounding

instead, wanting to recast Yeshua*

in their own image.

A Wonder-Worker is more palatable

than a prophet who

dares speak truth to power

challenges the long robes of institutional religion

sides with the poor and

opposes anyone, any system, any  institution

which restricts the freedom to make informed decisions.

The Yeshua* I want to follow is

more a rebel

than a follower of the status quo

more a teacher

than a despot

more a prophet who understands messianism*as compassionate love moving toward all-inclusive justice

than a Messiah who will lead people away from this life

into a heavenly dwelling place

where the cares of this world are unimportant.

Strangely enough this latter view

seems to be the underlying picture of the Gospels

Yeshua* began to hear a deep, passionate call

at his baptism,

began to shape that call

as he experienced an inner conversation

in which he said “No! to the various imagesof Messiah which seemed to be part of Israel’s DNA.

Yeshua* came to understand through his own experience

that God was not some heavenly adductor

waiting around to punish / reward people

for immorality, on one hand,

or respectability, on the other.

Instead, God was to be experienced as an unheard inner voice

insisting on love, peace, justice, and wholeness

in human affairs…

the Commonwealth* of Peace and Justice

was to be encountered first inwardly

then outwardly as an expression of

the depth of human community and cooperation.

To follow in Yeshua’s* Way means

that I am finding ways to integrate the darkness

that lies deep within me

with the light in me

that I try to show to everyone

To follow in Yeshua’s* Way means

not putting off life until I get to heaven

but investing myself deeply in the NOW

(in the meantime).

To follow in Yeshua’s* Way means

living fully now

laughing

crying

experimenting

loving

forgiving

seeking justice

being all-inclusive

The present moment —

in the meantime —

is the time we have,

God-given time,

the day of salvation.

The present moment is the time to

be present

listen for the insistence

respond to call

accept the invitation

reach out to others

be myself.

Following in the Way of Yeshua*

 

the present moment is the time

to be a real human being —

darkness and light

good and bad

forthright and deceitful

proud and shameful

integrated beyond the duality

whole and wholesome

to be a living, breathing

third way.

Does this require some readjustments in me?

Most assuredly,

even though, I scarcely know

what this needed adjustments are.

I will blunder ahead,

as I have these 75 years —

sometimes insightful

sometimes blind to myself

sometimes on target

sometimes amiss —

and always listening for

that unheard inner voice

which begins again

that child-like conversation

with my “friend,” Yeshua*.

[Image: “Creative Commons Superhero” by John Hain is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

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