’s Mark Kurowski reflects on ISIL, those who say there is no good religion and raw power.  Does Jesus hanging on the Cross, “Holy Cross” in form our conception of power? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read Ezekiel 33:7-9.   #GreatPreaching #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #ISIL #ConsciousnessofGod #Holiness #LoveAsPower, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday,   9/14/2014 Holy Cross Sunday.

Please pause this audio and read Philippians 2:6-11.

ISIS, now ISIL, and beheading of people only goes to show how brutal humanity can be. I got into a debate with someone who is against religion on Facebook and she said we cannot distinguish between good religion and bad. The problem is that ISIL and those who refuse to see that there is a propensity for humans to misuse the created order for their own perversion are two sides of the same coin. Both ISIL and the people who deny that there is good religion, deny the fullness of humanity.

ISIL recognizes that there is a God, so they understand that there is both humanity and divinity. Yet, their actions say that being human and destroying the body is where real power rests.

The deniers of good religion do not recognize that we are spiritual beings. Or, maybe they do recognize a spirituality that is pleasing to the ego which gives some comfort to the soul. But both deny the transformative power of a complete understanding of how the consciousness of God lived out through a human body results in a fullness of what it means to be human. My contention, for this Holy Cross Sunday, is that as we hear in the readings about how Moses saved the people from snakes by the lifting of his arms, and see Jesus pour himself out through outstretched arms on the Cross, the expression of God’s love, which we hear Jesus tell Nicodemus about, is where the real power rests. Real power is in love and God’s love. To be fully human means we give up the aggressive and banal human power and embrace the transformative power of God’s love. God’s love is nothing short of the consciousness of God lived out through the human body.

The Roman Authorities message of the Cross is confusion, violence, hatred and anger wrapped in power. It is the message that the one who kills the body is the one you should fear. It is religious intolerance, political betrayal and the domination of human brute force on display for all to see. The Crucifixion is humanity screaming out in a laughing, powerful rage that says, “I am mighty! I am mighty! I am human!” It is the fullest depiction of humanity’s attempt to use its power to usurp God that results in a desecration of the human body and a mangled corpse.

The Cross should be confusing. It should be perplexing. Because, in the consciousness of God, ultimate power results in the Created world, not a corpse hanging from a cross. In the consciousness of God, what we have is the emptying out of the self for the benefit of others, not the desecration of a human body to show how we can destroy.

Because Jesus is the full consciousness of God, he understood what the proper use of the human body is. The body is not for the gratification of the self through the exploitation and degradation of another. The proper use of the body is self-giving, creating, multiplying and loving, God and neighbor.

As we think of the Cross, the agony of the Garden of Gethsemani should come to mind. We should think of the gut wrenching blood sweating of Jesus as he gave way in his human will to the consciousness of God, “Not my will, but thine be done!” We should think of the controversy within Jesus between the human will that wants to preserve the power of the individual, the lusting of the flesh for many grizzly and angry satisfactions, up against the consciousness of God within him that knew that the fullest expression of being human was in giving up the self.

         Why am I being so very strong this Sunday? Why am I being so thick, so intense? I am being so very strong because in the office at the University, there is this little plastic statue of Jesus that is without any real form. No one knows what to do with it. It isn’t very impactful. The color is washed out. The features of Jesus are muted. There is nothing that really reaches out and grabs you to say, “This really happened! Jesus is real!” Instead, it is the same kind of stuff about which I talked last week, the domesticated faith that is nice and cute, but doesn’t change us.

         This Sunday, we say, “Oh, it is Holy Cross Sunday. Yeah, I know about the Cross. Jesus saved us on the Cross.” I am here to say, “Yes!” and then, “No!” Sure, Jesus saved us on the Cross, but what does that mean? You may think, “It means that we are going to heaven because he paid the price for our sins.” “Yes!” I say. Yes, he did pay the price for our sins, but he did so very much more! My contention is that Jesus transformed us on the Cross!

         “How could he have transformed us on the Cross when he died and seemed defeated by the Roman and Jewish authorities?” you may ask. Granted, the Cross seems like a sure defeat, a humiliating defeat. Yet, think about going to the Cross, what would have been the natural human reaction to being sentenced to death? It was the very reason that Jesus was allowed to be killed by Rome: Rome feared a revolution.

If Jesus had been like every other human being, the thought would have been to form an army from his followers, like ISIL, and revolt against Rome. Or, the reaction of the followers of Jesus could have been to reject religion outright and walk away from the so called God of the Jews, like those who reject religion today. These are very human reactions to setbacks. Our reaction to everything is to overcome by struggle and domination, or to throw up our hands in disgust.

         What if we were to use Desmond TuTu and Nelson Mandela from South Africa as examples? Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu’s “Truth Commissions” were transformative. By giving people a chance to express themselves and be recognized as fully human with hurts and losses, Tutu was able to use the Gospel of Peace to transform what would have been a blood bath after Apartheid and white rule of the majority black South Africans when the black South Africans came to power. How is it that a people who had the right to murder for the murder of their people did NOT murder? It happened because Tutu had the consciousness of God.

         What is the consciousness of God? The consciousness of God does not deny God’s love through human dominance, like ISIL. The consciousness of God does not compartmentalize the spiritual in a corner of life only to please the self, like the deniers of good religion. The consciousness of God is the life giving patterning of how God wants us to love one another lived out fully and completely through the human body. The consciousness of God is Jesus, agreeing in his human will, to follow what his divine consciousness said needed to be done for the world.

         The One who could have called angels to destroy his abusers, instead turned his other cheek and whole body to be offered as a sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world. No revolution, no denial of religion. The consciousness of God is the transformation of power that destroys into power that affirms and creates. The consciousness of God is a love that doesn’t take what is rightfully theirs in violence, but gives up life for the sake of forgiveness of peoples’ sins. That transformative love didn’t just start in the Resurrection, no, it was completed in the Resurrection. The transformative love of the consciousness of God started in the Garden of Gethesemani, was lived out through the giving of the self on the Cross, the Holy Cross, and was given its future form in the Resurrection.

         In this world, it is easy to be beaten down by the powers of the world and be disgusted and angry, bitter even. That is easy. It is the way of humanity, the desire of the flesh. What is hard is to choose to pray for those who hurt us. What is hard is to act in forgiveness toward those whose wounds are still inflicted on our hearts. What is hard is to act out in love when we are faced with the violence that humanity believes is power. The consciousness of God is what we are shown through the mangled offering of love on the Holy Cross. The consciousness of God is what we should be living through our bodies every day. Are you? Amen? Amen.

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