Friday, October 30, 2015

Here is the thing I wrote about the readings a couple of weeks ago about the rich, young ruler and how his failure was not in keeping his wealth, or even that he didn't follow Jesus, but that he failed to engage.

What I didn't say is that while this reading is from Mark, and the stories are a little different in all the synoptics, in Luke the story comes just after the story of the tax collector and the pharisee. The Pharisee was a regular at temple, he was one of the leaders. If he were here today he might be a bishop, or at least a priest. He certainly knew his way around the prayer book. Like the rich, young ruler, he would have done everything properly and in good order, knelt at the right times, and stood at the right times. Oh, he seems like one of us, doesn't he? Yet, despite having done everything correctly, he was not justified.

Like the rich, young ruler they both went up to the temple, to Jesus, to the religious authority figure... it can be anything... and they both walked away. Only one was justified, though.

Who was justified? The tax collector! The sinner! It is doubtful that the tax collector, an employee of the oppressor, would have shown up at temple very often. Even in this story he has the good sense to remain in the background, but he is the one who was justified/healed/engaged.

Is there something about going to the temple, going to Jesus, going somewhere... and then coming away? What happens in between? Why are some healed and some are not?  Some are justified and some are not?  Engagement. That's what. Who engages?

When we go to God maybe in prayer, or the daily hopes and ejacualtions that make up daily life, and we just blather, or complain, or dance with the monkey mind within, then it seems like nothing happens. But, single-minded engagement seems to get the divine attention.

As I tell my students, "One of my requirements is that you are awake when I walk into the room." I imagine a deity would expect at least as much.

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