The Great Projection: Matthew 5:38-48
#TheGreatProjection is the Podcast for February 19, 2017. Does God have enemies? We act like it. Today, Mark Kurowski puts someone on “the couch” to see who is projecting on whom. Listen to this podcast to find out.: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #NatureofGod #PsychologyToday #Oaths #Enemies #Rain #Sunshine #Righteous #Unrighteous #Good #Evil #Projecting #Damnation #Salvation #FatherInHeaven
Get the Podcast in Your Phone!
Full Text of Podcast, Open Here
For My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 2/19/2017 The 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 5:38-48.
Does God have enemies?
I want you to think about this for a moment and then we will come back to it.
Have you heard of the psychological term “Projection”? It is when there is something we do and we see it in other people, while denying it in ourselves. When we see it, or think we see it in someone else, then we pounce, positively or negatively. It is a human classic. It is usually done in spades by the person in a family who needs therapy the most, but refuses to seek therapy. Therapist Andrea Matthews has a great article in Psychology Today Online from 2013 that discusses the impact that projection has on us. I highly recommend it [and have put a link to it in the text of this podcast/homily].
The section of the Sermon on the Mount in which we find ourselves made me reflect on God and his nature. It also made me reflect on who we act like the Father in Heaven is. A long time ago, I concluded that much of the violence of the Old Testament was due the incredible value that Our Lord places on holiness. Over and over again, the Law, the Prophets, the Lord himself, says to the people, “Please don’t be unholy because the demands of the purity make it so that I would have to eliminate you if you do.” The whole of the Old Testament is about how we humans want to rewrite the rules. After we break a Law or Commandment, we say, “Lord, you are so unfair in how you treat us.”
My mother used to say that you have the right to punish your children or be curt with them, if, and only if, you have been kind and said, “If you push me, you are not going to like the response you get.”
This maxim from my mother is true about God and it is true because of what we see in the Sermon on the Mount. Remember, Jesus is telling us what kind of righteousness we have to have to be like the Father in Heaven, in fact, at the end of this passage, he says that we ought to be like the Father in Heaven. What is the Father in Heaven Like?
Let’s take the oat thing. If you think about it, if we are a truly honest person, do we really even need to be sworn in for a trial, sign a contract for purchasing something, or need a reminder for what we say we are going to do? No. If we were like the Lord, who doesn’t break his promises, then there would be no need for us to swear by heaven or earth. If WE weren’t lying stiffs, then there would be no need for oaths. To the Christian, who is to be pure of heart, like the Beatitudes that began the Sermon on the Mount said, then we would not lie. Of course, we would have to endure the consequences of our truthfulness. People would get angry at us sometimes. They would be hurt by us sometimes. So, because we don’t want the anger, the dislike, the drama, whatever it is we don’t like, we lie to give ourselves what we want instead.
The Father in Heaven cares about us. He cares about what we think. He respects us as persons. Yet, the Father in Heaven is not going to change the truth to make us happy. The turmoil we feel when we disagree with truth or don’t like the truth is our turmoil. It is not his. As much as we, on this tiny planet, in this tiny solar system, in this tiny universe rail against the One who made it all that he should change everything because we are uncomfortable, the Lord is the one person in and beyond the universe who is willing to give it to us straight. That being the case, the question is begged:
Does God have enemies?
If you hear what Jesus says, the answer is not right up front and center. Apparently, there are those who are considered enemies of the Lord, but his response to them is nothing WE would do. How many facebook posts have you seen in the last year that say, “If you don’t like my political views, I will “unfriend” you? Or, (I love this one) people will gleefully tell you that they blocked a whole bunch of persons because they didn’t like their politics. Enemies, we seem to thrive on enemies. We thrive on choosing who we can give our affections to and who we decide that we should not. Even more, we seem to thrive on giving others punishments. Now, there are legitimate reasons for denying someone our affections, but it should not be an easy decision.
It should not be an easy decision because the Lord makes the sun rise on the evil as well as the good. Did you ever wonder why evil people seem to be rich? Why are they warm and others out in the cold? First, it is because they are selfish. But under that is a second reason, they are given love by the Father with the heat of the day and the cool of the night. It is they who abuse this. They are making a cosmic choice.
Even more than the blessings from the Sun, the Lord sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. He gives the much needed water for crops to grow, our bodies to work properly, and the sustenance of all life to everyone. If this is how a person treats their enemies, those are funny looking enemies.
The Great Projection is that we have declared the Father in Heaven our enemy. We have decided that we don’t like him. We have decided that we don’t like his rules, his ways, the way he has created things. Thus, WE have an enemy. Yet, we are not the FATHER IN HEAVEN’S enemy. No, we are his beloved. All of us, even those who are the worst of the worst, are loved by the Father in Heaven. *MIND BLOWN*
The Father in Heaven doesn’t say, “If you don’t do what I say, I am going to kill you.” He says, “Please do what I am telling you to do so that you can be saved from the time when I am going purge the Heavens and the Earth from evil.” He is saying, “I don’t want you to be a part of the cleansing of the earth from injustice, pettiness, unkindness, ugliness, selfishness, and any other “-ness” of which you can think.”
The greatest example of the largesse of the Father is Jesus Christ on the Cross. Did he bring down angels to smite the guards who took Jesus to be tried before Pilate? No. Did he bring a flash of lightning when Jesus was falsely tried, convicted and beaten in police custody? No. Did he send a legion of angels to prevent God from God, true God from true God, from being Crucified with political and religious power? No. He turned the other cheek. He walked the extra mile to Golgotha. He did not refuse those who begged for forgiveness, even those who did not beg for forgiveness.
The truth of the matter is that the Father in Heaven is doing everything he can to include his children in what he is planning to do: which is renew the heavens and the earth. He is going to remove evil and injustice. He is going make all things new. He doesn’t want us to be left out, but he is not going to make us choose Him. That would be selfish. It would arrogant and egotistical. In the end, the Father doesn’t have any enemies at all. His choice is that all would be saved. The so called ‘damnation’ that awaits is not the Father’s choice, it is our choice if we choose. We are projecting our little minds on the Father!
The Great Projection is a picture of the Father in Heaven that has little to do with who he really is. It has everything to do with who we are, how we behave when we have power. We exact revenge from our enemies. The Father in Heaven provides a pathway for redemption. He is truthful and doesn’t lie to us. He is generous and blesses everyone, even those who hate him. He even gives his only begotten Son to die on behalf of those who spit on him, lie about him, cheat him, and kill him.
This is the Lord we serve. Thanks be to God! Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2017.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian