περιβλεψάμενος αὐτοὺς μετ’ ὀργῆς, συνλυπούμενος ἐπὶ τῇ πωρώσει τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν
“having gazed upon them with anger, being saddened by the callousness of their hearts” - Mark 3:5
I visualized myself as part of a group whose faith-act pleased Jesus, so I thought I would balance that by next visualizing myself as part of a group that Jesus is angry with --
My group and I are in the community gathering place expecting trouble because Jesus is here, too. When Jesus tells a man with a paralyzed hand to stand where everyone can see him, we all tense up. We know what’s coming, and we don’t like it one bit.
Jesus is looking at us and asks if it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Of course it’s lawful; that’s not the point. Healing the man is fine; just wait until the Sabbath is over. Respect our tradition. Respect the sanctity of the Sabbath. Fix the problem tomorrow. This solution is superior because with this course of action the man is healed and the Sabbath is honored, as well.
We say nothing. We do not give voice to our objection. We merely watch and wait knowing that Jesus won’t listen to our position. He’s going to do whatever he wants to do. Such arrogance. Such disrespect. To come into our community and violate our laws. We hate him. We will put a stop to his interference.
Jesus stares at us. It’s clear he’s as angry as we are. Jesus orders the man to straighten his fingers, and the man is able to obey the command. A miracle performed right in front of our eyes. It goes without saying that my group is all thinking the same thing -- this could have been done later.
Only after we have left the building do we talk about what just happened, how outraged we feel, and what we are going to do about the problem that Jesus represents. We are so busy expressing our indignation that we do not see the grief on Jesus’ face as he gazes at us. We are not looking at Jesus only at one another, and all we see before us is rage.
It takes an act of will to turn around and face Jesus. Only after I’ve tuned out my group do I become aware of how Jesus feels about my attitude. Then I feel shame. Then I see the truth about myself -- I love the rule and the institution the rule protects more than I love people.
My first take-away from this visualization exercise is that I should beware of timing arguments. When a group presses for an immediate redress of an injustice, I can see myself being in the other group, the one that argues that the timing isn’t right.
If I do this visualization exercise enough times, will I grow more sensitive to my own callousness? Can I catch myself in the midst of turning against others and shift directions? Instead of looking outward and growing indignant with the other group, can I look inward and visualize Jesus growing frustrated with me and my hard-heartedness?
When next I find myself in this situation, I want to remember these word, “There’s no time like the present.” There’s no time like the present for righting an injustice. There’s no better time than right now. Timing is everything, and the correct time is the immediate. Whatever gets disrupted, damaged, or ruined because of that immediate action was something that needed to be discarded anyway. There never would have been a more conducive moment to make the change. The change was never going to be an easy one.
My second take-away is the realization that bristling with anger does not cause a callus to form on Jesus’ heart. I want him to teach me how to do that; how to be angry and tender-hearted at the same time. I don’t seem to be wired that way. I need the Divine Electrician to bring me up to his code.