‘You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you.
The gospel imagines. It summons up before us a new, extraordinary vision of humanity and society. If we don’t feel a bit confounded by this we haven’t imagined it. It perplexes us because it sounds both absolutely right and yet highly improbable ever to be realised. Even if it is unrealistic, if we reject it, we are diminishing ourselves. Are you serious? A world order in which those who hold power genuinely act as servants, where they love people not lust after power? Among other things, Lent is an opportunity for us all to audit our ways of using any power we have and review our sense of service to those who have none
We cannot begin to imagine at this level unless we have been pulled up short by the limits of what we can see and understand. Religion is about doing this. Confronting us with questions not ramming answers into our heads. This is why the great religious geniuses had the genius of simplicity and make us gasp with wonder rather than just cheer at victory. Take the parables of the Kingdom for example.
The reign of God is like someone who found a treasure buried in a field. She buried it again and for sheer joy went and sold everything she had and bought the field. Thirty-three simple words describing a clear sequence of events that can keep a group of intelligent people talking for hours and come back the next day for more. To interpret the multiple meanings in the elements of this passage is to expose yourself and, if you are willing, to know yourself better than before. Why did the person bury the treasure again? (To prevent others from knowing about it. To keep it safe. Because it belongs in the field. Because she wanted others to come and enjoy it. Because it needs to be there to grow) Why did she feel such joy? Why did the joy lead to the recklessness of selling everything? What does ‘buying’ the field mean? Are some answers right and some wrong? Are some more right or wrong than others?
After morning meditation we jump up and go into the world with an open mind, not to impose pre-set answers on every situation, forcefully converting others to our view, but feeling for the truth with a questing, spiritual intelligence. By the evening, interiorly more dishevelled than we were in the morning, we sit down and let the inner space tidy up, not just evaluating the day as good or bad but testing its meanings. In this rhythm, we replenish the power of Imagination and restrain the perennial tendency of Fantasy to lead us astray.