Sunday 23 August 2020

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A

Word for today
The Gospel of Luke 13:22-30

A narrow gate for the mind 

The mind feeds on the energy it finds in its favourite food: fear. Fear is the emotion the human mind favours and the one it has known the longest because it is the first and oldest feeling it experienced after it accepted Satan’s deception. Even when there is nothing to fear for miles in every direction, the mind will nonetheless manage to keep us frightened, insinuating doubts, questions, suspicion, dissatisfaction, guilt and judgments about other people. The body does not know fear, it only has needs - physiological needs: breathing, drinking, eating, sleeping, keeping warm, reproducing (sexual relationship). Once the body has satisfied its needs it becomes tranquil and calmly available for the whole person, for any activity and use. When the body needs to sleep, it finds a place and a time to rest. When the body is tired it cannot be fully available, but once its need has been satisfied, for many hours afterwards the body will be full of energy and readily available for whatever the person wearing it needs. When the body is hungry, the absolute priority is finding food, but once food is found and the body is fed, it will follow the priorities of the whole person. The mind, the product of our cerebral capacities, does not need to drink, eat, keep warm, make love, or sleep. The mind has no needs, so it takes on the body’s; it puts itself in charge of organizing satisfying the body’s needs and whatever others it finds along the way.  The mind takes on and marries an illusion, something that does not exist; as a result it will never find an equilibrium or a measure of what is real, necessary, useful or possible. 
When you wake up in the morning and open your closet to find something to cover yourself with, you will find clothes for an army. Getting dressed is an easy need to satisfy, but if the mind controls it, when you open the closet your agitated, frustrated mind will say: “What should I wear today? I have nothing to wear." So fear creeps in, fear that something is missing, perhaps the right dress, but you do not have enough money to buy it, so you start thinking and planning a way to get more money to avoid a similar situation in the future. Questions start. Ah! The mind’s questions! Questions you ask yourself and you have the  necessity to ask others, and this is the mind’s apotheosis: talking. The mind has to talk, it has to inform someone else about its ruminations and labyrinths; the mind has to talk, talk, talk.  Even hate is not hate and it does not have fun unless it somehow becomes public. Success, failure, worries, hate and love: the mind has to get it out of its system, otherwise it will drown, because it is so immersed in itself and in its illusion that it is on the verge of exploding and dying.  It is easy to understand. But it is all fake, it is only vocal activit;, nothing is beng communicated - only illusions, dissatisfied expectations, resentment, judgements and vanities.
But the mind does not let go, it frightens you, it makes you feel inadequate in your dress, in your body, in your behaviour. A dress to keep you warm soon becomes the reason you think you never had what you like, that other people have been unfair to you, that life is not so good, that you hate your job, and maybe even your partner does not really  appreciate you.  At the beginning it all started with the need to have warm clothes to put on to go out with friends on a starry winter night, but quickly the mind started to convince you that you are worthless and the universe is angry with you. If you are hungry and you are fortunate enough to have food, hunger is not such a hard need to satisfy, but if hunger becomes mental, even when the body is satisfied, the mind will tell you that it is not enough and will make you eat more.  The same is true for drinking, sex, and all of life’s needs: when they become mental, when they become assumed and commanded by the mind, it becomes impossible to satisfy them, even if you are bursting with food or relationships.  A little at a time the mind will convince itself that it is the body and will transform every natural need into obsession and fear. 
It is not the body that is the problem: flesh, skin, food, clothes, sex are not the problem. The problem is the mind when it puts itself in charge and pretends to be responsible for everything.  It is the mind that asks questions, it is the mind that by feeding itself on fear cultivates doubts and suspicions everywhere. Only the mind, in its blindness, can ask Jesus, the world’s Saviour, the One who is called “Salvation,” “the One who saves”: Lord, will only a few people be saved?.  It is like asking the ocean: “Sorry, is there any water here?” The mind is not even satisfied by Jesus, it does not trust Him, it fears Him. And Jesus' answer is extraordinary, freeing, absolutely perfect. Jesus shows that he knows the human mind and heart better than anyone else:  Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. Fight against the mind, the false idea of yourself, against your attachments and fears, against acquired beliefs and unreal securities; fight against a mind that deceives you, distorting your physiological needs, proposing joys where there are none, light where there is darkness, satisfaction where there only is egoism. Fight against your psyché, which became a huge cave, an enormous door facing the abyss. Fight to enter through the narrow gate of God’s light, of the reality and the truth of yourself and God. It is not that the light and truth’s gate is narrow in itself, it is narrow for the mind, it is impenetrable, unusable only for the mind.
It is clear that, deceived by the evil one and our mind, the gate of true love is narrower than the one of pleasure for its own sake.  It is clear that, deceived by the evil one and our mind, the gate of the gift of oneself is narrower than the gate of vanity and ambition.  It is clear that, deceived by the evil one and our mind, the gate of justice is narrower than the one of profit and interest. Strive  says Jesus, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough, literally: they will not have the strength, and Jesus here is not informing humanity about heavenly statistics, He is not setting boundaries or deadlines; what He is doing is underlining the difficulty of the task and the importance of not setting out on such a journey towards the narrow gate without His help, without His name on our lips, without His Word in our hearts.