Monday, February 29, 2016

Lenten Reflections: Invalidation

"They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” - Matthew 27:29

It's quite easy for us to put down another person, isn't it? We judge their thoughts. Ignore their feelings. Attack their very character. By our words, we invalidate. And when invalidated, we weaken the other. 

When someone is weak, they're vulnerable, and when they're vulnerable, they have no defense. In the line of fire, we target our opponent with precision, selecting just the right weapon. A dagger of words. A knife in the back. Lashing of the tongue. A kick in the proverbial crotch.  

We methodically weave our crowns of thorns, careful not to spill any of our own blood. We fasten our weapon to the head, making sure that each thorn is imbedded deep into the skull. We inflict as much pain as as possible, hearing the bone crack and skin tear. We see the blood trickle down and we laugh to ourselves with delight. Mockery is an added bonus.

"If it was good enough for Christ, it's good enough for my friend."

But something stops us in the midst of our persecution. We pause. We reflect. Who is the person that we just attacked? They look familiar. Too familiar. Same hair. Same devious smile. Same blood. Same crown. 

Because in the end, we're always the ones who stand accused. We're the ones that stand vulnerable. Weak. bloody. Naked. Invalidated.

Lent is a time for self examination. A time to reflect. When we do, we see our treatment of others, but realize that the judgment always falls back on us. We put ourselves down. We are sickened by our own thoughts. We reject our own feelings and we attack our own character. We stand as an open target. We prepare our heads for the crown we've created for ourselves. We mock that which is reflected in the mirror.

Self destruction. Self medication. Self mutilation. Attempted suicide.    

But in our reflection, we come to the realization that Christ bore the same crown. He bore the pain and mockery. He endured the shame, standing naked before his accusers. 

Lent reveals to us that we no longer have to see our own reflection in the mirror. Christ reflects back to us. 

"It is finished."    

Lord, as we examine ourselves during this Lenten season, enable us to accept the pain and mockery that we inflict on others. Enable us to see how we judge, accuse, ridicule and invalidate. But in the midst of our realization, help us also to humbly see our ways in light of You love, mercy and grace. For only then can we begin to reveal Your vision for the perfect Kingdom. Amen      

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