The Words We Hear Too Much & Not Enough

(Jesus) has been manifested in a human body for this reason only, out of the love and goodness of his Father, for the salvation of us men.        

St. Athanasius

I wonder how many doses of the same medicine it takes to become totally immune to it.

Those of us who deal with spiritual things as a job run a severe risk of becoming inoculated to the very medicine we offer in Jesus’ name. Sure, Athanasius, that is a really nice statement and we will be sure to parrot it back in Sunday school when we run out of things to say. And maybe some newcomer really does need to hear something this basic, so let it rip! But I need something more. As it turns out, in some subtle ways I have convinced myself that I have been healed to the point I no longer need my doctor.

 

Come to think of it, that is exactly why Jesus came and lived life here for us. Maybe I am not the only psych-ward patient doling out advice, bragging on my sanity.

It is a good thing Jesus came for the sick- even the psychotic.

And, according to St. Athanasius, who needs no distinguishing from the other Athanasiuses down through history, Jesus came precisely for the reason that our Father needed a sure way to manifest his love toward both the sin-sick and the ego-inflated. He had been speaking the same message, as it turns out, for a long time. He just needed the perfect way to express his feelings. Did you catch that? God needed a perfect way to express his feelings of love, compassion, justice, and mercy to the people he made that had turned against him. Jesus was the perfect way for the Almighty to say what he needed to say to us.

 

I really like Erwin McManus’s Soul Cravings. In one of his little reflections, he tells a story about an interaction he had with a Middle-Eastern Muslim crowd. The crowd could not understand why God would come down and live with us because Allah may be a lot of things but a God who is passionately in love with his rebelling creation is not one of them. Now, McManus and his wife had a rocky beginning to their life together (she turned him down on his first proposal!) and yet he pursued her. This is what he remembered:

                       I was unrelenting and asked her again, pursuing her with my love, and I pursued her with                            my love until she said yes.

There was a huge relief throughout the entire room.

I went on, I did not send my brother, nor did I send my friend. For in issues of love, you must                        go yourself.[1]

 

What a beautiful picture of his love for us. And it only goes deeper.

 

Do you remember the story about the wicked servants that Jesus told?  A man goes on a journey, leaving his property to his managers. When he sends a servant for rent they kick him out. A second it beaten. A third is bludgeoned in the head. So the man comes up with a great plan. He will send his son. Surely they will respect him! Surely this last ditch effort will prove the man’s seriousness! Surely the love of God becoming man will result in us understanding his love and falling in love with him!

 

Does that seem logical to you? If they had no respect for the servants that means they had no respect for the master, which means his son is only in the way, right? Well, the rest of the story is that they killed the son. Allow me to rephrase, the rest of the story is that we killed the son. God sends his own son and we hated him. Could not stand him. Killed him, even.

But do you think God was caught off-guard by this turn of events? Of course not! That is the advantage to being God- you are never off-guard. No, Jesus came, displaying his Father’s love indisputably by dying for us. That is what St. Athanasius meant by saying Jesus’ life in the flesh is for our salvation. Man incurred a price that only man could pay

Jesus became man because God loves us, regardless of how we would first respond to his ridiculously obvious overtures and initial impressive wooing efforts. This is how you know his love is strong- he loved first.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in theses last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, who me appointed heir of all things…

Today the Healer offers help, mercy and grace for your time of need. Let’s not be too proud to take the medicine.


[1] McManus, E. Soul Cravings, entry 11.

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