Today’s blog looks on in hopefulness over the actions of the new pope, Francis, and continues the explorations of how the Catholic Church might embrace a spirit of reconciliation and reform. (See Part 1 here)
If there’s no original sin, then why do we need Jesus?
If, in an effort to create reform and thereby reconcile themselves to the millions of Catholic who have left (either because they no longer felt welcome by the Church, or found in it relevant to their own lives), the Catholic Church should change its position on original sin, the first question that comes up is, If there’s no original sin, then why do we need Jesus? Didn’t Jesus come to save us from our sins? From an alternative perspective on original sin as core wound, the answer is yes and no. Yes, Jesus came to save us from our sins, but not in the way that we have formerly been taught. If we understand the core wound, the false perception of separation from God as the consequence of choosing the human condition, then at least as long as we are in this body, we will mostly see and experiences ourselves as separate – separate from God, from ourselves, from creation and from each other. In this state of perceived separation, we feel alone, abandoned, afraid. Jesus came to save us from the pain of this perceived separation. In Jesus own process of human development, cultivated through years of study and prayer, he came to understand that this perceived separation is just that…only a perception… and that in truth, we are ONE with God….always have been and always will be…we just temporarily forgot. Jesus learned that through a process of prayer, contemplation, ritual, devotion, worship and service that we can REMEMBER this Oneness with God and in that connection, be freed of the loneliness and fears that plague us and that ultimately result in our non-loving actions. So yes….Jesus did save us from our sins…..by reminding us that God is love, that we are made in that love and that we are never separate from that love. Then, he showed us how we too could remember the joyful contentment that comes through the recollection of that love and that by living in that love, our non-loving actions are no longer necessary. This is how Jesus saves us from our sins.
What did Jesus teach us about remembering this Oneness?
Pretty much everything……but in my book, Authentic Freedom, I condense it down to seven spiritual truths:
- God meets all of our needs in abundance
- We are each uniquely gifted to embody, reveal and share God’s love in the world
- There is nothing outside of us that can prevent us from being the person God created us to be
- God is love and we are made of this love. This love cannot be denied, neither does it have to be earned
- The truth (or our oneness with God) will set us free, as will the expression of the personal truth(s) that God reveals for us
- All wisdom, knowledge and understanding are available to us in our connection with God and is revealed to us in a time that is in our highest good
- We are one with God, and therefore never alone
Through Jesus’ teachings, in parable, in experiences of healing, in modeling compassion and justice and in the fact that prayer was the center of his life, Jesus showed us how to live these truths.
But what about earning our way into heaven?
That’s just it. If we believe that God is love, that we are made of this love and that this love does not have to be earned and cannot be taken away, then there is no heaven to be earned. Yes, in death, we will have the opportunity to return to full recognition of our Oneness with God, and we might call that heaven, but, this experience of returning to Oneness in our death does not have to be earned. The good news, however, is that we do not have to wait until we are dead to get a glimpse of this heavenly abode because what Jesus taught us about the kingdom of God/heaven is that it is at once within us and all around us.
Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he said in reply, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is within/among you.”
Luke 17: 20-21
And then, Jesus gave us a formula for connecting with and remembering this place of joyful contentment within ourselves:
When you pray, go
into your inner room, close the door and pray to *Abwoon in secret. And Abwoon who sees in secret will repay
you. Abwoon knows what you need
before you ask. This is how you are to pray.
While we do not have knowledge of the exact methods of prayer Jesus used, these readings hint at one who has embraced a contemplative path. Jesus went off by himself to pray, and went into his “inner room” where he found his connection with God. This is the model that Jesus invites us to follow if we are to remember this Oneness for ourselves and live in the love that Jesus came to know. In the Catholic tradition, we are fortunate for the men and women who came after Jesus and who developed formal practices of contemplative prayer that support us in this remembering. As the Catholic Church moves forward in reform, I think that after leaving behind the doctrine of original sin, a reclamation of the contemplative practices of the Church and sharing them with the laity would be the next best step. After that, let’s talk about reforming the sacraments as supportive of our recollection of God’s love instead of the way they are currently taught – as tickets we must purchase if we ever hope to enter into God’s loving embrace.
copyright Lauri Lumby 2013
* Abwoon is the name Jesus gave to his experience of God. Abwoon can mean Father, and it also means much more than that.