Wholly Jesus: His surprising approach to wholeness ... and why it matters today

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Instead, he honors us, drawing us to himself, saving us with wholeness and life. We all have unmentionables.

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His promise is that healing can begin today among us, abundantly, beginning now and continuing into life beyond life. Salvation comes to the crowd as they dare to shed their preconceptions and stereotypes about tax collectors and begin to see Zacchaeus as a man within whom God is at work.

Healing comes to both Zacchaeus and the crowd of onlookers in the form of reconciliation as Jesus enables them to become the ordinary and extraordinary wonders God created them to be. And salvation comes to us when we open ourselves to his richer, deeper, fuller vision of who we can be, and who our neighbors can be. Jesus reaches out to redeem all kinds of unmentionables as he seeks to make us whole, like many pieces joined together in a single loaf of bread. A cloud of witnesses who gather at his Table, who share the bread of wholeness and the cup of salvation and trust that our unmentionables are no challenge for his presence and redeeming grace.

Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he, he climbed up in a sycamore tree and showed Jesus more than he intended, and so do the rest of us, but Jesus looks beyond that awkward sight to draw us into his presence and transform us into his saints. Nice, huh? But for now, he is on his way. His followers all know that Jesus refuses to be controlled by people, deterred by division, or bound by boundaries.

No wonder, in such a place he meets ten lepers, as ambiguous as the place where they live. Lepers, mostly Jewish, but not all, who have been joined together by their disease. They are people who exist in the shadows, as if behind an invisible barrier, as solid as granite, separating them from the rest of their world—uprooted from the familiarity of home, living in a strange, new land that renders them wholly untouchable and exiled from all they know. No wonder they cry out to Jesus, not for comfort or companionship, but for mercy and a cure.

And of all things, he does it. No touchy-feely laying on of hands, no reaching out with pastoral care. Ten lepers are healed, but one comes back, and with a voice somewhere between yearning and faith, between desperation and deep love, he praises God and thanks Jesus. It would be easy to stop now, on a Sunday morning. What about the other nine lepers in the story, as they go on their way without a backwards glance? The nine, who do exactly what Jesus asks of them. He sends them on their way to show themselves to the priests that they might be re-instated to their communities, their relationships.

Maybe the second one was offended.

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He was used to working hard for everything he ever had, and something like grace, something that was simply a gift, was just too easy. So he was offended. His whole identity was wrapped up in his illness. It had, in some way, worked for him, and he needed to be sick. He simply forgot. Maybe the fifth leper was never going to say thank you to any one again.

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Sometimes something happens to folks who are always looked down upon, forced to feel like charity cases and obligated, expected, to say thank you for everything, even for the air they breathe. Something happens inside of them and they just stop saying thank you to anyone, even Jesus.

Maybe the sixth leper was a woman—a wife, a mother, separated from her family for so many years, now suddenly able to rejoin them, to see the babies she left as young adults. Suddenly freed from her cage by Jesus, she runs straight home.

He knew it had taken place, but was sure there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for his cleared skin. He was absolutely sure his healing had everything to do with Jesus, that the Kingdom of God had come, the Messiah was here, and that he had to spread the good news to all who would listen 1. All eight were folks who were returning to real life, to the new, old normal that anyone in exile longs for.

There are homes to build and gardens to plant, there are children to marry off and communities that need benefited.

Sailing True North and the Voyage of Character

People are healed and patterns of life resume. We look at the lepers who fail to return in gratitude and realize they are us—people already molded into our perspectives, so preoccupied by what comes next that we seldom stop and reflect on our blessings and give thanks. But then, for most of us, unlike the Samaritan leper, such transformation is a long process.

So what about the ninth one on his way? But he stayed on his way, actively participating in the process of becoming who he was called to be, a process that was only completed when he stood before a Jewish council, before Pilate, spent a day oozing from a beating, and the next, climbing a hill with the cross piece across his back, on his way.

Yes, we build houses, make gardens, live in relationships, but all the while, God is working within and among us. Note: I was given this little book 39 years ago and this week as I was thinking about the story of the 10 lepers someone mentioned it. I followed the same concept, although I changed the reasoning behind Jesus as the ninth leper. While the speculation is clearly our imaginations running away with us, it is a story that causes me to think long about why people make other choices and how Jesus was viewed as an outcast, a social leper, in his own time and place.

He acknowledges that there will be things that will cause some stumbling along the way, but woe to whom they come through. The reality is, like disciples of old, often we disciples of the here and now ask for more faith as well. Like his early followers, we, too, are aware of what Jesus could do. The blind were given sight, demons were cast out, and Jesus could turn loaves and fishes into fast food to feed 5, Just how can disciples, then or now, live up to that? We find ourselves frustrated and anxious as we try to live as people of faith, all the while feeling inadequate to the tasks around us, insufficient for what we have been called to do even as we wonder just what our faith is good for.

But instead, he brings up the mustard seed. What if faith has nothing to do with quantity, and folks who worry that doubt, fear, or confusion are a lack of faith have missed the mark entirely? What if faith is, instead, more like a verb than a noun, more about what we do, about our orientation, our engagement, our actions.


How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus

What if faith is more about reflecting what we see Jesus do, being faithful by showing up and doing what needs to be done, even when a cross looms ahead. The implied answer is, of course not. Servants simply get to the business at hand. Jesus tells us our faith is enough for our needs. He pivots the question of quantity and grammar with an answer that deals in sufficiency. Of course, there will be times when we neglect or forget that such gifts are ours, and then have to live with the consequences—the desolation, bitterness, and destruction that comes from forgetting.

Yet, even at our worst, God asks us to trust that God will be faithful when our faith wavers and our commitment feels painful and pointless. Although our faith may be only the size of the tiniest speck, even a little is enough for God to work. Certainly, there seems to be something in the human condition that motivates us, that causes us to seek after more than we start out with.

Maybe we, sitting here today, understand that better than most. For sure, both men in the parable seem to be striving for something, whether they realize it or not.

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Any good news in his life is gone, any hope of glory will have to be on the other side of the grave. Whoever he might have been, whatever he might have done, we have no answers from the text. To be honest, we really know nothing of either man, nor is there any moral accounting. By the same token, we have no idea if Lazarus was once part of the deserving, working poor or the lazy poor, the down-on-his-luck poor or the part of the opioid-crisis poor.

For Luke, the fact that Lazarus is poor seems to earn him merit 1. They are two men on a journey towards their quest through this life into the next.

Gaudium et spes

In line with the process approach we are taking, Bohm then goes on to show how this results in a more dynamic description of the implicate and explicate orders. He draws on principles and qualities of field theory to move from a static idea of a hologram as representing this ground to a flowing, process oriented description of a holomovement. He also reinforces how notions of identity are abstractions from this and have only a limited domain in which such concepts have validity.

Wholly Jesus: His surprising approach to wholeness ... and why it matters today
Wholly Jesus: His surprising approach to wholeness ... and why it matters today
Wholly Jesus: His surprising approach to wholeness ... and why it matters today
Wholly Jesus: His surprising approach to wholeness ... and why it matters today
Wholly Jesus: His surprising approach to wholeness ... and why it matters today

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