Contemplating Jesus

THE PARAGON IN PARADOX

Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

Most civilized societies operate within a logical framework of values, laws and reason that uphold social as well as moral order.  So too in Jesus’ day.

“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,”  (Matthew 5: 38) was one such expression of justice and typical retribution.  It would have been expected that the father of the prodigal son lock his doors to his wayward son in moral outrage, personal offence and as an incisive gesture of disgrace.    It was expected that a person of privilege would take a prominent seat at a banquet, and that if you laboured all day in a vineyard you’d be paid more than those who were invited to work only one hour.   But Jesus exposes a radically different take on things.  He points towards what is true to each individual, thereby cutting through the facades of falseness towards an egoless way of being. He presents scenarios that illustrate how truths from the heart differ from most truths of culture, heritage and religion, truths that were accepted by all even if they maimed, distanced, separated and marginalized.  He turns top-down power to bottom-up power by acknowledging that the blessed are those who are poor and meek and mourn.  Accusing hypocrisy Jesus shows that truth is always attempting to be born through our sufferings, that suffering is a given and within suffering we are blessed.  And through suffering we are, in time, provided comfort and consolation: we are liberated from the chains of our own hypocrisies.   Vulnerability through illness, loss or accident eventually leads to deeper inner strength.

Without direct experience of Jesus’ paradoxical scenarios, they would appear on the surface to be foolish indeed. However, immunity to their promises usually doesn’t last long.   At some point, life gives us the opportunity to choose either logic, retribution and legal justice or acceptance, forgiveness, and the “other cheek.”  Nearly every day there are opportunities to practice the opposite of the acceptable norms in reactions, thoughts, ideas, attitudes and actions.

Jesus’ paradoxical position endeavors the release of truth in its perfection; a truth that shows us that nobility of soul is what is truly imperial, that realized humility is indeed palatial and that love links us with the universal nature and eternal power of God.

Jesus could be viewed as setting an impossible standard: how could one survive choosing the “more foolish” of ways in a logically-certain environment?  Although rationally unanswerable, the ambiguous attraction of Jesus’ directives continually beckon and burn in us.  Because, in the end, we share a deep-seated desire for Jesus’ culture, morals and attitudes to thrive as society: it’s how we’d hope it all could be.

LMV

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