As you may recall, last Sunday, we found out that, as believers, the choices before us are always only two: with God, with Jesus or with the world, with human flesh (i.e., with meager human resources unaided by God’s grace).
We are either blessed or cursed, believers or unbelievers, spiritual or earthly, Spirit-driven or flesh- driven.
Thus, here is the program for the rest of our life on earth and into life eternal: “just as we have borne the image of the earthly one (Adam), we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one (Christ Jesus). 1 Corinthians 15:49
But, this is indeed a delicate proposition due to the fact that our human resources are very limited and we do not avail ourselves fully and adequately of God’s grace through his Word and his Sacraments.
Consequently, it is hard for us to bear the image of Christ and to make it visible to others so that they would do the same.
Let me go over with you case scenarios found in today’s readings (1 Samuel 26: 2-23; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; Luke 6: 27-38).
One could be called the one of spiritual paralysis, the inability to act as disciples of Christ who are loved, cherished, enlightened and guided by the Father.
Let us face it: we are naturally hard-wired to act according to the flesh and the foolishness of this world in self-preservation at any cost.
Thus, in order to act as disciples of Christ we must go against this innate inclination of ours.
Due to this predisposition, the spiritual “re-wiring” of our minds and hearts can be done only in the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word and through the Sacraments.
Genuine disciples of Christ are those who desire to bear the image of the heavenly One, and they know that they are called to do to others what they would like others to do to them.
They strive very hard even to love their enemies and pray for those who mistreat them.
They are generous also with those who take advantage of them, and so on.
However, since what Jesus suggests goes against our wounded human nature, the opposite is also true: if we refuse to bear the image of the heavenly One, the old, earthly hard-wiring of our minds and hearts will lead us to keep hating our enemies, cursing those who mistreat us, striking back at those who hit us and dealing harshly with those who take advantage of us.
Thus, in too many cases, the chain reaction of violence and revenge continues and the mess of this world worsens.
Unlike King David, we would take Abishai’s advice in a heartbeat and relish taking sweet revenge on our enemies. (cf. 1 Samuel 26:8)
This we might do because, although we are believers and we know some parts of the Gospel by heart, we do not habitually live in God’s presence with full awareness of this most comforting reality.
Nor do we surrender routinely, spontaneously, our whole life into his powerful and loving hands.
Another one would be the human, earthly-hands–on scenario.
Oftentimes, we cannot wait for God’s timetable to unfold; we prefer to take control of our life and of as many events as it seems possible.
In short, we rather take matter into our hands and act on impulse rather than wait for God to intervene or to guide us to act as people who bear the image of the heavenly One.
We forget that the more trust in God we display the less we would follow our poor human judgment and carry out our own brand of justice.
This lack of trust in God guiding all events and all seasons has devastating repercussions on all aspects of our life.
Ironically, as a result of this human, earthly-hands-on way of conducting ourselves, we would be much more worried, restless, anxious, unable to enjoy life as it comes, and more likely inclined to mess things up considerably for ourselves and for those around us.
This existential anxiety is most evident wherever people feel insecure and facing an openly uncertain future.
Tragically, far from taking control of their lives and of events people might wind up being thoroughly panicky and lost.
And whenever people who claim to believe in God and in Jesus are beside themselves, depressed or worried sick, they tend to act irrationally, as if God were a distant observer and not their rock of safety, their guiding light, their loving Father.
How then do we work with the Spirit of Jesus, eventually, to bear, the image of the heavenly One?
From the earliest times, the saints have the following recommendations: cultivate silence and attentiveness to God’s Word; be aware of both your inner disposition/frame of mind at any given time and, especially, be aware of God’s presence in your life.
These are the crucial steps to be taken in the critical re-wiring process.
The image that we should bear, eventually, is the image of the One who was totally obedient to the Father’s will even when such obedience led him straight to the most horrific types of torture and to a very shameful death on a cross.
The wiring of Jesus’ heart and mind was fully manifested as they were nailing him to the cross: “Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Hence, our re-wiring requires repeating a simple prayer of surrender; something like this: “I believe that you, O God, are my loving Father, that not a single, insignificant detail of my daily life escapes you, so I trust you completely, blindly, unconditionally.
I place myself in a listening mode and I await your signal and your orders before I act.
And whenever you call me to action, let me be like Jesus, my elder brother, and strive to be as compassionate as you are, O my heavenly Father. Amen”