Jesus and the False Self

Gen. 2 is a mythical, fireside chat account of human origins. All that God created was good and God made a garden to grow and flourish—Paradise. How then explain evil in the world? Enter the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When we try to become like God, the false self takes over. In reality, the false self is incapable of knowing God. When we eat the fruit of this tree, we are doomed to death. We have to let go of the striving false self, recognize our utter poverty before God, and enter into the darkness where we abandon who we think we are. There God will bring light and love into the abyss of our poverty and hopelessness. Paradise has been restored though the power of Jesus. Contemplation is entering into union with God. It is gift. Contemplation is showing up and trusting that God will show up.

In Mk 7 Jesus is attacking exclusivist kosher practices as continues his attack on the purity code. Kosher observance established collective identity. Only Jews could come to the kosher table. In other passages, Jesus invites everyone to the table. No foods are unclean. No person is unworthy to come to the table with Jesus. Table fellowship will be the symbol of the new order ushered in by Jesus.

Mark is the first written Gospel. It is more transparent than the other Gospels. Most of the time the disciples of Jesus just don’t get the message. Here Mark is setting up the disciples. Their lack of understanding will grow as Jesus drags them to Jerusalem and his ultimate confrontation with the powers.

The heart is the moral center for Jews. Jesus, explaining his way to the Gentiles, speaks about food going in and coming out. It does not defile because it does not go through the heart. Morality will no longer be based on kosher observance and purity codes. Rather, morality will be an internal affair of the heart. The sins Mark lists come in part from Hosea’s condemnation of Israel. Mark is making another socio-political statement.

The institutional church often lets externals, which at one point were meant to bring people to God, to get in the way of a relationship with God. Many religious practices reinforce the false self. They can keep us from having to come face to face with our false self. Thus the warning against words, words, words. Contemplation allows us to drop all codes and the false self they feed so we can see God face to face. In baptism of the Spirit, God gifts us with the Holy Spirit who, in our emptiness, cries “Abba, God” for us. The Temple veil has been ripped apart. We can come face to face with God.

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