Lent 5 – Year B
Restoration is a good thing. If forgiveness is a way to such, how do our usual nice images of forgiveness match up with a chest-pounding culpa mea, purging draught of hyssop, and crushing of bones?
There is a strain of our tradition that indicates these confessional penances are necessary preludes to forgiveness, that we won't receive said forgiveness if we have not been sufficiently abased.
There is a strain of our tradition that substitutes Jesus' humiliation and passion for our own, paving the way for us to be redeemed and without which restoration would not be possible.
There is also a mystical strand that can visualize no amount of suffering, even Jesus', to atone for the slightest of relational breakages. There is here an ever-present possibility of a translation from wherever we are to someplace incomprehensibly better, beyond what just bringing us back to ground zero could never imagine. Heart change is heart change, not a tit-for-tat game.
Given these broad strokes, it is 2 to 1 against Jesus or followers of that model to prevail in the market-place of ideas. The actions-have-consequences crowd have too difficult a time with the joy of salvation being available beyond the mechanics of some holy economy.
The strains requiring recompense for the past before moving ahead are powerful enough to lead mystics to hide away. It is time for our mystical side to cry out, "Ollie, ollie, oxen free – y'all come, it's time to move on.