by Joseph Raffa
We’ve made our national pilgrimage to Gallipoli, scene of slaughter, carnage and courage; now, why not a national pilgrimage to our spiritual heartland, source of peace, love, inspiration and gentler living? People do not want war. Reluctantly they go. But, once committed, every nation does its utmost on the battlefield and on the civil front to ensure the ultimate objective – unconditional victory. Would that we could dedicate ourselves in like fashion towards a new objective – the realisation of the Divine in human nature and persist in this direction until this and the qualities it engenders, rules the human expression unchallenged. We would then discover that the peace we seek comes, not through force of arms and courage on the battlefield but through this beautiful blending of the human with the Divine nature.
by Joseph Raffa
It’s almost Easter, the time Christians celebrate the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ. About 2,000 years ago Christ stormed through Judea and Galilee and, in a few short years, stirred up such ferment in the way he conducted his missionary life that his name and deeds have become etched in the historical movement of mankind’s consciousness. So much so, that even today, he is revered by millions throughout the world.
All this from a small beginning in a barren (mostly), desert backyard of a place that no-one would care about if it hadn’t come to be important to the Western world and to the Jewish and Arab people who live there. It was then, of somewhat strategic importance and conquering armies from East and West took turns laying claim to the area.
Somehow, because of this man and those who zealously spread his message, where he was born, where he died on the cross, his burial place and the extent of his ministry have become the focus of fervent adulation by devout Christians. How is it that one man could initiate such a hurricane religious change across the world?
The old Gods were swept aside to be replaced by the concept of One God. Idolatry was replaced with the worship of a God of light and love – a Being without form or shape – something to be contacted in hallowed moments of prayerful contemplation. Living rightly according to God’s laws was enthusiastically encouraged and this man who proclaimed a new way of living settled in the hearts of millions and became their inspiration.
In a way he is with us still. Religious days are celebrated by the faithful, each according to tradition. There are churches scattered the world over with a distinguishing cross somewhere on or in the buildings. Libraries contain sections with books on his life and from time to time, controversy surfaces in the media on some aspect of his life. Who was he? What was his purpose? Were the miracles for real?
Interpretations abound as the human reason stretches every which way to understand those momentous events and the tremendous growth of the churches that followed in his name. A most unusual performance and one that confounds the rational mind. Perhaps this man did have a divine backup as he claimed. After all, a divine nature is something the rational mind can’t get its inquisitive nose into.
What a combination that would be – the divine and the human, dwelling in loving harmony. What kind of a harvest would that produce on this brawling, bruising, mixed up planet? Would it herald the end of violence and selfishness, of the divisions that mankind has raised? Would starvation be quickly dealt with and all the other kinds of actions that degrade what should be the fair and gentle face of mankind?
I suppose Christ had the answer to that and he considered it so important that he refused to compromise his standing when his time came. So, he faced the torture, the crucifixion, the taunts and all else the misunderstanding ones subjected him to. And he came up trumps. He did what he had to do – did it in style, perhaps with a sense of showmanship. It was, after all, an ingenious idea, the resurrection. It guaranteed an historical immortality.
After all these years, his light still shines down to us. When in need, knock and in some way, he’ll be there. Doesn’t matter who you are, what your life has been. If the need is deep and the asking sincere, the response will come.
What moved him then, what inspired him to go to the cross – is with us now. It’s closer than we know, waiting for us to return. This kind of love knows no boundaries. And should the divine enfold you, just for a moment, you will have joined that hallowed nature that Christ spoke about when he said “I and my Father are One.”
Note: Joseph wrote these words in 1994. They are as relevant today as they were then.
A complete collection of Joseph’s moving pieces about Jesus is available. Beyond the Cross, The Christ Collection is being offered at a discount price in the lead up to Easter. http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Cross-Joseph-Raffa-ebook/dp/B00C8SN63K
Our lives are a ritual of prearranged patterns. Every morning it begins anew. We rise, wash and go through our routines. Blinds are raised, windows are opened to let in fresh air. We dress according to taste – light and colourful for the summer, warm clothing for the winter.
Every season has its chores but overall, some things do not change. Breakfast, dinner, tea, washing up and shopping. Reading the daily paper if that is your preference. Monday to Friday has its own tempo. Work for many, except for the unemployed, the retired – whose time is their own – and the children. Some are cradled in their mothers’ arms or pushed about in prams and strollers. Those old enough head for school on foot, bike, bus or car. The seasons dictate their own patterns in dress, food, entertainment and behaviour.
Sometimes the ritual is broken by sickness, accident, or an unexpected change. But whatever it is that disrupts the orderly flow of our lives, once it’s over, we return back to the patterns we are comfortable with if we can. Being human, we love the complex patterns of our lives. And we like guidelines to direct our travel.
We have our web of relationships – our home, which is the centre of our living and our refuge – family connections and a host of gadgets to make life comfortable. And that’s the way it goes, a mixture of happy and sad, until death drags us away. Rituals then, don’t mean a thing any more.