Saturday 28 March 2015

Be in One Mind

We are constantly invited, in this world to embark on so many projects; so much can be demanded of us at times that it feels that we don't know which way to turn that in the end we begin to suffer from a number of problems, poor concentration, failure, fatigue, and a sense of inadequacy. We might be begin to see that where others have success, we don't and so we begin to feel overwhelmed by all the world has to offer and unable to cope, we might feel that we cannot cope or that in some way we are not good enough or clever enough, or have enough staying power, enough strength to see something through to the end.

One of the key factors in all of this is to be able to focus the mind to know what it is that we really want. There in the synoptic gospels is the story where after crossing the Sea of Galilee Jesus comes to the country of the Ger'asenes and there he is confronted by a man who is completely insane, so much so that by night and day he lived amongst the tombs, cutting and bruising himself with stones. He was said to be possessed by demons. When Jesus asked him what his name was he said his name was Legion, because he was 'possessed by many'. In other words, the man's true self was overcome by many other aspects of his mind all going and pulling in different directions so that he himself was not whole, his true self was divided and confused. This was the cause of the man's anguish. In the story Jesus heals the man, he performs a miracle by driving out the demons and sending them into a herd of pigs who consequently go mad themselves by rushing down a steep bank and drowning in the sea. We might recall that Jesus also said that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand, neither can a house divided against itself stand. In other words there must be a unity of purpose, at every level in order to succeed and to have coherence and to be whole.

In the Gospel of Matthew we hear the words of Jesus again on the same question when he says that the lamp of the body is the eye and if we keep this eye single, or in other words bear this in mind at all times, then we shall remain full of light, the whole body shall be full of light. When he says the lamp of the body is the eye, he means the mind or the minds eye. In other words if we only allow things of light and goodness to occupy our minds we will find that we will not so much dwell in the darkness of confusion but in the light of single-mindedness, we will not so much be easily overcome by conflicting and unhealthy desires or live in pain and distress as did the man from the Gera'senes but rather we will enjoy more clarity of thought and have a real sense of purpose. We do not forget that in this Lenten period that the trials that Jesus faced in the wilderness were testing trials of choice and this trial confirmed his turn from the world to the spiritual life. Jesus is of course the ultimate exemplar the way, the truth and the life.

On our journey through life, in our struggles we have to even sustain the sustaining power of faith itself. As a building must be constantly maintained so we have to maintain our own spiritual well being, we have to be alert to the unwelcome thoughts and impulses that can surreptitiously take over and lead us into darkness or into the despair that robs us of our joy and our belief in ourselves and God. We need to encourage ourselves and each other. We are always assailed by the difficulties and hardships of life and no more is this recognised in than in the book of Psalms. Here we can hear the voice of Israel, the very human outpourings of grief, of yearning, and anger but emphasis is always on faith and redemption as the faithful believer struggles and is consoled:

Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.
The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.

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