Thursday, March 29, 2007

What's Wrong With You?

There is a moving scene (among many) in the film The Fellowship of the Ring where the character of Aragorn, known as Strider, struggles with his own mortal weakness. In the quiet of Rivendell, in a dimly lit chamber where ancient memories are held sacred, he gazes on a painting of his ancestor, Isildur. It was he who in ages long past cut the Ring from the Dark Lord's finger and saved Middle-Earth from defeat. But it was by that same Ring that Isildur himself fell into weakness and death. The memory of that fatal flaw has haunted Aragorn his entire life.

As he turns to the shadows in this fog of fear and shame. He sees his love, Arwen approach and she speaks a word of confidence to him. "Why do you fear the past? You are Isildur's heir, not Isildur himself. You are not bound to his fate."

The future King replies "The same blood flows in my veins. The same weakness..."

What is it that "leads us into temptation"? Why do we so often do the evil that we hate, and not do the good we know we should do? The answers to questions about sin, suffering, death, neuroses and psychoses are all bound up and tightly packed in the simple phrase "Original Sin." The sheer density of this reality is like the weight of galaxies. It's like our collapsed star, a black hole in the human universe.

Original Sin is the sin at our origins. And it's real. Painfully real. Other dogmas and doctrines in the Church sometimes need more expounding, more unfolding for us to see them more clearly. For the doctrine of Original Sin, we only need to look in the mirror, or to read a newspaper. Before we are tempted to dismiss it as something irrelevant to our everyday lives, another doctrine of the Church that's all "spiritual and stuff," let's pause.... if we miss this, it will be impossible for us to ever truly know ourselves, others, or this beautiful but broken creation that has been dying and rising with us all our lives.

In the beginning, with the sin of Adam and Eve, there was a terrible break, a mortal wound that caused four major fractures in our relationships as human persons. These four Original Wounds are still experienced by every son or daughter of Adam and Eve. They are breaks in our relationships with God, within ourselves, with each other, and with creation. We all feel them, we all experience them in some fashion every day. They are our ancestral heritage. They are in the blood (which is why we need the blood of Jesus to be poured out for us in a Divine transfusion - that's the Mass).

Think of your life. It's a good examination of conscience every day to look at these four areas and to ask the question, "Have I been healed?" The good news is, we have the cure today. The blood of Jesus is with us. His Sacred Heart is here! The organ is ready to be transplanted within the hollow of our chest. New life, a strong heart, and reconciliation.... finally!

In Jesus ALONE is this reconciliation made… In Jesus ALONE is real union and communion. Has this truth really sunk in for us? Peace and reconciliation will NOT come from politics, the Republicans, the Democrats… economics, a new haircut, or a new job… a new car, a new relationship… It's Jesus. It really is.

How strong a reaction are you having to this statement right now? Is it an "amen" or a whimper? A shrug of the shoulders or a surge of the heart? For me, it's getting easier every day. I'm getting acclimated to this new heart and this new blood that comes to me every time I go to Mass. Sometimes it cuts. He's that divisive. He's a two-edged sword that slices us through like a surgeon's knife. But this is the open heart surgery we need, or we'll die. If we don't have His Heart, than we suffer those mortal wounds and we'll never accomplish our own mission or finish the journey...

Arwen the Beautiful held Aragorn's weathered face in her hands. He was a Ranger and had seen many dangers in the wide world. She whispers "Your time will come. You will face the same evil, and you will defeat it.... The Shadow does not hold sway... Aragorn. Not over you and not over me."

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