Mystical Word  |  Weekly Reflection
Mystical Word is a weekly reflection on the Sunday Gospel reading by L.J. Milone, Director of Faith Formation, Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle

Repent; let go of our dependence on ideologies

God asks us to let go of our dependence on ideologies.

Today we are suffering from a glut of ideologies.  An ideology is thinking an idea trumps reality.  Everyone thinks their ideas are the right ones about reality.  Everyone assumes their way of looking at things is the way to look at things.  We have drawn the curtains of spiritual blindness over the windows of true perception.  There are some extreme groups who cannot imagine coming to a consensus with their perceived enemies.  There are some in the political world who automatically presume there is no truth or worth to the other side.  On a more everyday level, we tend to think our ideas are more important than concrete reality.  We presume our plans are more important than a person who needs our attention, than a child who wants to play, than a beggar who wants food, or than an elderly person who wants some companionship.  We suffer from a glut of ideologies.

This is the spiritual antithesis to Jesus proclaiming, "This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel."  We are caught up in fantasies about what matters.  Jesus is trying to wake us up to see reality shimmers with the divine.  Hence, Jesus’ first phrase, “This is the time of fulfillment,” means the time of fullness is now.  The present moment is the only time happening, and it is the doorway into the eternal now.  Jesus calls on us to root ourselves in the present moment otherwise life will pass us by and happiness will forever elude us. 

Next comes the phrase, “The kingdom of God is at hand.”  The kingdom of God is Jesus’ main theme in his preaching.  The Bible clearly states God is king, the only Lord.  In Isaiah, God says, “I am God; there is no other.”  God alone is God.  The king is the center of the kingdom, thus, this image of the kingdom of God proclaims that God is the Absolute Center of all existence.  God is, therefore, the center of my life.  Jesus himself embodies the kingdom of God for he is the radical unity of God and the human person.  Jesus is the Good News, namely, that we are all one with God.  Each of us can say, “God is the center of my life and I am always already one with God.”

Jesus then tells us to repent and believe in this good news, which is that we are always already one with God.  This is tremendously good news because God is not some distant cosmic being up in the sky whom we need to appease.  Rather, God is within us, delighting in us as we are.  Most of history considered the divine to be terrifying, demanding, and even devouring.  Most cultures thought they had to sacrifice animals or innocent human beings to keep the nasty gods from unleashing their fury.  Meanwhile God reveals the divine self in Jesus as mercy reassuring us, “Do not be afraid.”

To connect with this truth, we have to repent.  If we briefly peruse the news channels we can see plenty of examples of people who are not convinced God is one with them.  Their minds are convinced about other things, namely some ideology.  The idea may be a correct one, but if we absolutize that idea, we make it into a god to appease.  Repent going beyond our minds.  We repent when we let go of our attachment to these ideologies, which are fiercely held opinions and views about they way things are.  Reality, the Mystery of God, is much bigger than our ideas.

This is the mind Jesus calls us to go beyond, which thinks the self is only thoughts and feelings.  These thoughts and feelings are the grist for the ideological mill.  Hence, there is an unquenchable need for interior silence, that state of mind in which one is quiet and unattached to the mental noise passing through consciousness.  The comedy writer Jack Handy writes, “When this girl at the museum asked me whether I liked Monet or Manet, I said, “I like mayonnaise.”  She just stared at me, so I said it again, louder.  Then she left.  I guess she went to try to find some mayonnaise for me.”  In our usual state of mind, we think the universe revolves around us.

It is quite interesting how Jesus calls the first disciples.  It is an enactment of the kind of repentance Jesus is seeking.  Peter, Andrew, James, and John leave those realities that constitute a normal identity in first century Palestine: work and family.  Of course, they form core parts of our own identities.  So, the message here is to leave behind everything we think we are to realize that our core identity is bound up with God, namely our ideologies found in our thinking.  We repent by breathing deep, becoming still, and knowing God is present in this moment.