Mystical Word | A Weekly Reflection

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

Jesus, Faithful to his Identity as Son of God

L.J. Milone shares a reflection on the reading from the Gospel according to John that we hear this weekend.

True, lasting transformation happens in naked, undefended presence as Jesus was naked and defenseless in being crucified.

The passion of Jesus reveals a fundamental lie.  We suffer from the lie of accusation.  This means that we think the other is the problem.  We think other people are the problem.  We think evil is over there, in someone else.  We don’t recognize that we are the problem.  Because we are blind to our own complicity in evil, we believe that the only response to evil is to destroy it.  This is called “the myth of redemptive violence:” we deal with evil by killing it, blowing it up, wiping it out.  This myth has cast a shadow over every people, tribe, nation, and country.  In fact, this myth shows up in our movies.  Name any action movie to see the myth brought to life.  Jesus reveals this myth for what it is: a lie.  And, Jesus shows us the best way to respond to all the evil and pain in the world: forgiveness, mercy, and holding the pain so God can use it to change us.  Is this not what Jesus did on the cross?

The myth of redemptive violence is a well-worn source of identity, a reliable reinforcement of the false self.  Just like all the other sources of identity, though, it does not come close to our true identity as revealed in the Paschal Mystery.  This is the mystery of Jesus Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection.  Through this great mystery, God saves us and reveals the divine self, the Great I AM, as the Trinity and as Infinite Love.  This great mystery also unveils our deepest nature: we, too, share in God’s own life and we realize it through a death journey like the one Jesus undergoes.  In short, Christ crucified shows us the Mystery of God, our true nature as one with God, and how we become one with God, which is the way of the cross.

What can we learn from Jesus in passion regarding our true self?  Throughout the story, we see Jesus standing firm.  Jesus is faithful to who he is, and calls us to realize and be faithful to who we are.  Jesus knows who he is and never deviates from this identity as beloved Son, related to the Father.  He never succumbs to false identities, which can lash out in blaming, revenge, violence.  Jesus remains authentic and true to who he really is unto death.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, fully aware of what lies ahead of him, Jesus surrenders.  He chooses to give himself away without resentment, without claiming any moral high ground, in short, without any hint of a false self.

Through his passion, death, and resurrection, Jesus shows us our real self is the Christ self.  The Christ is the unity of human nature and divine nature.  The Christ unites matter and spirit, sacred and secular.  This is our deepest identity.  Christ is our true self.  Because of Jesus, each one of us is also the Christ, the Anointed One, though not all of us realize it.

In the passion narrative, we also discover the lengths to which the false self will resist dying and resist uncovering the true self.  The false self can’t stand the true, and so needs to expel it, cover it up, twist and torture it, and ultimately put it to death.  The false self fights against truth, reality, and the good in favor of the world it has created to serve its own interests.  Why else does Pilate sentence him to die?  Why else does the crowd want to free Barabbas and crucify Jesus?

Instead of defending against the attacks of the false self, Jesus surrenders.  He doesn’t get drawn into any ego games, but confronts the false self in all the people involved with his passion – the apostles, the soldiers, the priests, the crowd, and Pilate – with the truth.  In John’s Gospel, during the trial before Pilate, Jesus declares, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37).  Truly, God is forgiveness, mercy, love beyond all violence and revenge.  We don’t need to crush our sin with might.  Rather, we need to let it go without violence, in and through the mercy of God.

On this last Sunday of Lent, Passion Sunday, we breathe with the dying breath of Jesus.  We breathe YHWH in union with Christ Crucified.  In doing so, we allow naked, undefended, and nondual presence.  We let the moment be as it is.  In the state of conscious presence, of knowing I AM, we let go – or die to – past and future.  We let go – or die to – labels, roles, and all thoughts.  We climb onto the cross of the present moment and allow our cherished illusions to die.  In breathing YHWH, the false self dissolves and the true self, the Christ self, emerges and unveils the glory of God shining wondrously in and through it.  Death yields new life.  Cross gives way to resurrection.  God be praised.