Looking the right direction when we are in a crossroad
A woman in a certain village was ostracised by his kinsfolk for refusing to take part in a fetish traditional practice she considers not to be in tandem with her Christian belief. In spite of the social exclusion she kept attending their social gatherings because she felt she had not done anything wrong. She bore the pain of the social exclusion with Christian fortitude but was at peace with all in her heart even though no one communicated with her. The local law threatened that anyone who dealt with her would face the same ostracization. One day, she attended the funeral ceremony of a deceased neighbour. Gradually the driver of a delivery vehicle began looking for the key to the vehicle with which to collect the drinks for the funeral. Putting everybody in a state of unease the whole house was filled with a level of unrest. It was in a very remote area and there were not many means of delivery of loads. For a long time they ransacked the places they supposed the key should be found, but to no avail. Surprisingly, the ostracised women saw behind an opened door something that looked like a bunch of key but covered partly by the debris of the previous evening. She drew attention to it. All eyes went in the direction of the floor behind the door. To the chagrin of everyone, there lied the key. The tension doused, yet nobody spoke a word of thanks to her for fear of incurring ostracization. According to the woman, she felt happy that the tension calmed down although they failed to show her appreciation. As she told this story tears of joy dropped from her eyes. God vindicated her, she says. Externally, she bore the pain of ostracization. But internally, she knew the peace of living according to the mind of Christ.
The problem was that her kinsfolk had been looking for the key in wrong places. Most of us, if not all, perhaps have made the experience of looking for something very important to us in wrong places. It can be energy sapping and at times very frustrating.
Most Jews in Jesus time failed to see and accept Jesus as the Messiah and King prophesied by Zecharia (cf Zec 9:9). They could not recognise in him in the righteous and victorious king because they were expecting a worldly Messiah who would liberate them from their political enemy and slave master – the Romans. They were looking for a Messiah who would lead them to a worldly conquest. Thus the joy meant for the daughter of Zion tended to elude them so long their refusal to accept Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah endured.
They could not imagine a Messiah who rides on a donkey; who would suffer terribly and got hanged on a cross. Put simply, in their learned “adult” mind, they fail to realize that true joy lies in gentility of life and humility of heart. The narrative of Matthew 11:25-30 calls attention to this paradigm shift.
Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest.
Much of today's suffering all around us stems from corrupt leadership (the elite) and wrong assessment from the masses (false view) of the true state of affair. Jesus offers to give us a new paradigm, namely, wearing as a yoke the attitude of gentility and humility of heart (Matt 11:29).This new paradigm is hidden from the wise and learned (Matt 11:25) and calls for conversion both on the side of the elite and on the side of the masses too .
Conversion of Elite
Here we speak about the conversion of the learned, the powerful and those in leadership. Jesus confronts this in his discourse with Nichodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council (Joh 3:1). He (Nichodemus) went to Jesus at night. He did not talk with Christ about state affairs, though he was a ruler, but about the concerns of his own soul and its salvation. Our Saviour spoke of the necessity and nature of regeneration or the new birth, and at once directed Nicodemus to the source of holiness or happiness of the heart: Spiritual Birth is the beginning of life. He needs to be born again, to live anew. He needs total conversion of heart. He must redefine his life, set his values right. He must be made a new creature (IICor 5:17).
I think of the usual discussion that politicians have when they meet with religious authority. Often thousands of words are spoken. Thousands of promises are made about structures to be built, electricity, housing for workers, jobs to be created for teaming jobless youths, schools and university to be built, empowerment of farmers etc etc. Sometimes empty promises made because these leaders are not challenged to look into their own soul and see how they stand in the light of their need for salvation. Thus telling lies are no longer considered as sin. Embezzling public fund is no longer seen having grave consequences before God. Treating civil servants and general public as animals are no longer considered as offence before God. But even with all that are they happy. No. Hence their need for special protection.
The gun is the machine or machinery with which they guide whatever is left of their personality whose integrity and moral worth have been terribly abused. They cannot walk freely among their citizens because they see in them their own shadow, depersonalized and robbed of their dignity. They find this shadow in their fellow citizens and are gripped by craven fear. They needed to wear their machine or machinery because they are intensely fearful. Not even the song of psychofancy is strong enough to convince them of their safety. Nature has a way of avenging for the injustice perpetuated against it. When a group of people sit together and decide to amass and share among them what is meant for millions of people, invariably they are bound to become agitated for fear that the millions might at one point rise up for their right. So they need the gun in event the masses take up arms against them. Hence the need for the Powerful to clear the masses out of the road when they are passing for they do not know when and where the course of justice will revolt against them. So fear becomes their abiding companion. They are not only afraid of their victims, they are afraid of one another. The game is like survival of the fittest in a Hobbesian state of nature. Hence they have identity issue. They need to be recognized by the length of their convoy, their uniform or they need to come late at occasion so everyone will recognise their importance.
Conversion of Led
I just think of many communities where people are facing different challenges of life. Normal human difficulties of life. I think of series of meetings that people make discussing the problems that the community had to grapple with. At times causes are attributed to dead ancestors, or to some external influences, to Witchcraft and so on.
I am yet to see a community where people in all genuiness sit down to tell themselves that the problem is from their wrong attitude to life. Conversion of heart requires that each looks deep into ones heart and asks oneself what he or she is doing or is not doing that is contributing to things not working well in the community. It is a way of facing the corruption in oneself. If everybody would in truth face oneself to allow the spirit of Christ reign in one's heart, there will be peace. The Rest that Jesus talks about will surely come.