Monday, July 14, 2008

Slaves to God

I remember a story told by Scott Hahn in his study of Romans about a young woman who was attending his class. He was explaining the verses in Romans 6:15-23 and spoke about becoming a slave (doulos) to God once we have been set free from slavery to sin. She became very distraught, saying she would be no one's slave. She left the class, and dropped his course!

And, yet, this scripture captures the heart of metanoia: the change is not emancipation of our sarx but the taking on of the nous of Christ. Does this mean that we have both acting at once in our being? Yes, it seems so, especially in the end of Romans 7: "Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! "

How do I live out this metanoia? By living as a slave of righteousness--obeying my kyrios who bought me with his blood and "putting on his mind". Most difficult is that my sarx is unconsciously a slave. So, it seems so much of my working out my salvation is staying awake and choosing to obey my kyrios. This requires changing my body, as the compulsion to slavery is embedded in my physical being. Thus, this metanoia requires the incarnation of Christ in my body.

Longing to be Fed with the Crumbs

I heard the Bishop yesterday say that there are two passages in scripture that show the criteria for the Last Judgement: the story of Lazarus and the rich man and the story of the sheep and goats . He described the main criterion in both as the relief of human suffering. I asked if this included attentiveness to one's own suffering. He confirmed that it did, and pointed out the need for the loving sacrifice of allowing one's own suffering to relieve the suffering of others. I realized that attentiveness to the sufferings of others requires me to stay open to experiencing my own suffering. To be clear, this is not the same as seeking to suffer: there's already plenty already if I open myself to it. Rather, it's about how my avoiding the experience of my suffering, which leaves me cold to the suffering of others, leaves me cold to Jesus. This also reminds me of numerous authors who report that one finds the gospel of Jesus Christ when attending to the poor.