St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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First Sunday in Lent, 2014

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 “Jesus, The Eden Project and Me...”
I speak in the name of Jesus the Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
 
A few years ago, a good friend of mine, who also so happens to be a teacher, met a new prospective partner. He was quite taken by this new person and began to pursue a relationship. The other person, however, was not so keen to embark on a new relationship, in the light of previous experiences. After spending a little time together, the person being wooed gave my friend a book to read and said, “Before we begin any form of a relationship, I want you to read this...”
 
Eventually, the story was relayed to me over a cup of coffee one day as I caught up news with my teacher friend. I inquired as to the name of the book, making a mental note to myself that perhaps this book was worth reading if someone is actually prepared to base a relationship on it.
 
After sometime I found out how much the book was to buy and the cost was a little prohibitive. Luckily, I was able to ask our school librarian to order the book for our school library, and so The Eden Project by James Hollis came into my life...
 
This profound book attempts to delineate the concept of a relationship and how they work. It also explains, from a psychological point of view, why they often fail. I was fascinated by this small book and read it into the wee hours of the night, often exclaiming, “Yes, that’s me!”
 
The Eden Project explains in a very succinct, yet informative manner, how all of us are forced to separate from our mother at birth and thus the first paradigm for how we relate to others for the rest of our life is formed. The baby begins to realise that it is separate from the “other” and so a new consciousness, separate from the mother begins to develop.  This process, which Hollis refers to as a “wound”, will have a huge impact on future relationships.
 
As the child grows up and continues to relate to its parents, so issues are entrenched as no family is perfect. The problem comes in when the young adult now finally enters the world of one-on-one intimate relationships. By default, the young person now subconsciously projects their unfilled needs onto their new partner. Over time, the new partner is unable to meet the needs of the person and so the relationship fails.
 
Hollis suggests that as long as people remain unconscious of this in their lives, their relationships will suffer, if not fail. Hollis writes that we need to be conscious in our relationships, meaning that we are very aware of our own shortfalls, our own neediness, our own trauma from our childhood and NOT project that onto our significant other in our personal relationships.
This started me thinking...
 
Are we conscious in our relationship with Jesus?
Or
Are we unconscious in how we live our lives as Christians?
 
I began to ask myself some serious questions regarding this.
How do I know that I am really present in my relationship with Christ?
Just because I attend mass twice a week, carry out my duties as a Priest, say the liturgy correctly and dress appropriately, am I present and conscious in my personal relationship with Jesus?
 
It is so easy to be a Sunday Christian. It is so easy to be seen at church every Sunday, saying the right things, doing the right things and giving the right things... but does this mean I am guaranteed NOT to be unconscious in my relationship with Jesus?
 
These are some tough and difficult questions... perhaps they make you feel uncomfortable. They certainly made me feel uncomfortable. I realised that Hollis had not only challenged me in my personal relationships with people, but inadvertently, he had also challenged me in my relationship with Jesus. 
 
Jesus too is a living person who is meant to be in our lives in a functional and dynamic way that brings light and truth to our life. Are we perhaps, as broken and dysfunctional people, projecting our inadequacies and neurosis upon the Christ as we operate from an unconscious platform, too scared and too afraid to stand up in and for Christ by working and growing through our personal challenges. This is what being conscious in Christ is all about... facing our fears, dysfunctions, challenges and hurts... in a constructive and brave manner so that we as Christians can improve our spirituality and grow closer to Him.
 
When do we do this?
Well, to be honest, as soon as possible... perhaps the beginning of Lent is a good place to start. Just as Jesus spent forty days and forty nights in solitude in the desert facing his fears and temptations in order so that He could be really conscious in His relationship with His Father, so too we are called this Lent to reflect deeply on our relationship with Jesus. Am I living an unconscious life in my relationship with Jesus, or am I in a conscious and living relationship with Jesus. Only you can answer this for yourself!
 
How do I do this?
If you feel that there are indeed parts of your life where you are operating from an unconscious platform, perhaps it is time to seek a little therapy, chat to your Priest or even a life-coach so that you can explore certain areas of your life that have been neglected and suppressed. This takes guts and determination. You can do it.
How do I ensure that my relationship with Jesus is conscious and present?
Well, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
Am I open to the Holy Spirit in everything that I do?
Do I read the Bible and pray in a manner that is conducive to being open to the Holy Spirit.
Am I open to my spiritual leaders?
Am I prepared to grow in the spirit and my life in Christ even if it means change and feeling uncomfortable?
Am I working on myself in terms of how I relate to others and to the community in which I live and work?
 
Jesus calls us to be alive in him, borne and carried by the Holy Spirit, trusting the promises and love of the Father. He calls us to be conscious and alive in Him. He calls us to be aware of ourselves and others. He calls us to grow and develop in love within the community of grace that we live. This is what it means to be conscious in Christ. Living, working, growing in Him so that the light of Christ continues to shine in us and around us in the world. It calls us to be brave, alive and conscious... difficult and a challenge for many of us when it is so much easier to remain unconscious in so much of what we do and say.
 
Are you ready to explore your unconscious side and move to a more conscious relationship in Christ?
 
May God bless you this Lent as you rise to the challenge of being fully conscious in all that you do in Him and for Him.
Amen.
 
 

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