Reality, What A ConceptFr. Barnabas Powell
In the mid 70’s the late Robin Williams did a whole comedy routine entitled “Reality, What A Concept.” The show was about the funny side of actually dealing with life like it really is, AND how hilariously ridiculous the lengths humans will go to AVOID reality.
Turns out these funny observations aren’t new at all. The great philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”
So, what is it about we humans that we put so much energy and effort into avoiding reality? The answer is in the twin delusions of “what I fear” and “what I want.” We avoid reality when we are afraid of some outcome and we pour lots of time and energy into imagining the worst possible possibilities. Then, we make these worst case scenarios “real” in our minds and allow that worry to affect us, those around us, and how we deal with life – all from the delusion of what we’re “afraid” might happen. We avoid reality when we allow our fantasies of getting what we want to enslave us in a state of desire and we then find ourselves gripped by either hunger for that thing or things that drives us to despair or the dangers of seeing life and the people in our life as merely means to “get me what I want.”
Both of these delusions fulfill the master plan of the evil one to distract us from reality and enslave us to fear and the passions.
But look at our Gospel Lesson for today in John 12:19-36. I won’t quote the whole passage but I want to draw your attention to a particular section in John 12: 27-28:
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
Our Lord Jesus is approaching His final days before His execution on the Cross. He is speaking to the crowds following Him and hearing His teaching (and many of them are hoping for some miracle or some food or maybe a healing of some disease). The Lord is teaching them about His impending death and in the middle of His teaching, His soul cries out with the enormity of what is about to happen! Imagine that, the Son of God, God in the flesh, our Lord Jesus; both fully human and fully divine; displays for them and us reading centuries later His inner struggle with the task laid before Him to liberate the human race and the universe from the debilities of mortality and death!
But the Lord’s feelings of dread are not allowed by Him to swallow His purpose. His troubled soul is really troubled, but there is something more powerful than His distress. It is His purpose! And in this divine invitation to look into the soul of our loving Lord and God, we see the path to dealing with the reality of our own lives. It is the power of knowing your purpose that frees you from the delusions of your fears and your passions.
Today, what is your purpose? Oh, I’m not talking about your career, or your marriage plans, or your travel plans, or your retirement plans. All these are tainted by their temporariness! They all end at the grave! No, I’m talking about your purpose as an existing human! Why are you here? What is the ultimate purpose for your existence? It cannot be the mundane flash in the pan existence of all our overemphasized temporary plans. These are too small for the dignity of the human person created in God’s image to be made in His likeness. No, we were meant for more. We were meant to look into the reality of our true purpose, and that is to learn to be God’s companions forever! Anything less and our true reality will always be obscured by our fears and our passions! And, you were meant for more. You were meant for the reality of your purpose! Don’t settle for anything less.
*Don’t forget, the new Live Call in show Faith Encouraged Live with Fr. Barnabas Powell airs THIS SUNDAY at 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific at www.ancientfaith.com