Today I’m reflecting on the interplay of two scripture readings from last week:
Hebrews 12: 15-16: “Strive for peace with everyone/ and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord…See to it that no one will be deprived of the grace of God.”
Mark 6:1-6: ”Where did this man get all this…and they took offense at him.”
Holiness is a word which eludes precise definition. It’s definitely an attribute of God. “Be holy as the Lord your God is holy,” and it is about awe. (“Take off your shoes”) and Otherness, what we think might be unattainable perfection. As applied to human beings it could be wholehearted commitment to living the Christ-Life, sanctity or blessedness as in the Beatitudes. I like the translation of the word Shaman: “God-invaded person.” We are called and chosen to be a holy people.
The association of these two passages suggests that holy people are “SEE-ers.” The author of the letter to the Hebrews insists that seeing is and will be the result of holiness. And that Christians are to “see to it.”
Jesus is the one whom the people think they know, to the point of disdain, the local boy from Nazareth. He is UNSEEN by the townspeople he grew up among. The people he preaches to won’t see him as anything but ordinary, and find his speaking and acting “uppity.” “Can anything good…?”
It’s a question of imagination, with its simplest definition “seeing as.” There is the conventional imagination, in which the present is seen through the lens of the past, the time-tested, what we’ve always done and who we’ve always been. (Keep the peace. And don’t rock the boat.)
But there is a broader and deeper way of seeing-as, the inSpirited imagination, which is able to go beyond the surfaces and the predictable, to view things in the present moment with God’s eyes, God’s tender care, and God’s dream of what might be possible for any human being; that call coming from the future, the call from the One who makes everything new.
Holiness is eye-opening…
…Seeing each other and oneself and the whole of creation groaning in coming to birth as good, as held in God, as treasured by God, as suffused by God–
…and then “Seeing to it” by identifying grace at work in one another, by having hope in and for each other, by staying open to surprise and to change and to ongoing conversion. And to never say or sigh, “It’s not gonna happen; it’s way over the top, impossible, she’s chasing rainbows, he’ll never amount to anything, there’s no use pursuing something or someone any further.”
So here we are, today’s Christians as the Holiness of God incarnate, defined in and by that holy mystery of Jesus, the Passion-Death-Resurrection, formed by the Saving Word, living in the Spirit’s power, imagining with God’s Sight the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of love. So, our call? See, and see to it.