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God’s Will toe-to-toe

Teenagers on the hunt for a saint to inspire their life during and after the years of study for the sacrament of Confirmation, often choose the saint VERONICA.  With a little help from Hollywood our imaginations can picture exactly what it was like at the side of the road to Calvary when Jesus walked and stumbled toward the hill upon which he would die. 

A temptation for us – who are led by Hollywood – may be to think that we understand exactly what was happening there, on the side of the road, between the crowd and Jesus, and the women and guards.  In earlier posts this week we explored the concept that as Western thinkers, our spiritual imagination has severely withered over the centuries and that once we think we understand, there is no room for the subtlety of anything else.  The layers of meaning are reduced to the knowledge that fits in our brain – and once it fits, we cease to ponder.

These 40 days of Lent cause many people to travel to Jerusalem, in person or imagination, to spend time with the suffering Jesus who walked the streets under such a tremendous burden.

What was it like to be alive when Jesus was alive?  Would I have responded any differently to Jesus’ challenges than the apostles did?  Would I have jumped into the grisely parade and lifted the cross of Jesus, which was grinding him into the dust, to my own shoulders?

When we speak of spiritual imagination we aren’t talking about imagination in the regular sense.  Spiritual imagination allows us to see “what else” is present in the situation at hand or in what we ponder in our hearts…could there be more than meets the eye?  Can we look at things with eyes that allow us to see beyond the concrete?

In our last post we also talked about the “will of God” and that when we talk about seeking God’s will for our lives, we recognize it – not as something that will curtail our own free will – but how it actually is a kind of guide for behavior that marks us as believers and followers of Jesus.  WWJD? in a BIG WAY!

The ultimate question then, is can our spiritual imagination and desire to live according to a code of faith go toe-to-toe with the demands of this world, right here, right now?  Do we have the eyes to see those who are groaning under the weight of the cross of discrimination today?  Do we possess the “true vision” (veronica) to recognize Christ in the person who has just been incredibly rude to us on the phone? or waved their fingers at us in traffic?

Do we, in turn, reflect the “true image” of the God we love, the God who went the extra mile for us?  This is really tough stuff.  I reflect on this as much for myself as I do for you who will read this.  How do we do this everyday?

God’s will is that we know God, not just someday, but right now in one another.  If I can lift a cloth to your face recognizing my own struggles in yours, then I embody the compassion of a woman named Veronica, my faith becomes loudly counter-cultural, and can stand toe-to-toe with the challenges of the daily life.

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