Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Forgotten forgiveness


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There is a story told about Jesus interviewing people at the gate to Heaven. He comes across a man who might be Joseph, who is elderly, failing eyesight and hearing and understanding. Jesus asks him if there is anything Joseph left behind. Joseph replied there was a beautiful boy who had wisdom beyond his years, and yet was childlike. He had nails in his hands and feet. Jesus looked significantly at Joseph, and Joseph looked back, and then asked "Pinocchio?"

It is said that all writing is rewriting. And so the story of Pinocchio has tensions mirroring the Christ story. Pinocchio goes to hell, and is reborn as a good boy. Literary analysts connect this progression with Homer's Odyssey. Pinocchio wants to be a real boy. Christ was God made a real person. And so the joke laughingly suggests the true story of Christ is the fantasy of Pinocchio, but highlights the truth that all writing is rewriting.

There is no escaping God. God has forgiven all of us. Not that God approves of sin, but that God has made a way by which we can be with Him even though we are sinful. We are often, for a time, captured by our memory. We have made choices which don't include God. And every bad choice we make makes it harder to make a good one. The Devil points to our past and tells us that there is no way God can accept us. But we know the Devil's future. And we don't have to share it. Even though we have a past.

The point was driven home to me powerfully recently when I learned an elderly woman was suffering dementia. She has spent her whole adult life opposing God. Cursed as a child by betrayal from her father, two of her three sisters suicided. Her mother was strongly religious without having awareness of God as saviour. She had married a man who gave her children, but she rejected her husband when a child died and she never remarried. She raised her children to hate God, and told her dying child that there was no hope with God. And she would sleep with the ashes of her child. And she would drink and sweat alcohol. And no one who knew her casually knew to help. And so she has aged. And one day she will die. But what of her pain and her choices? Her dementia robs her of choice, as it will eventually rob her of life. And yet there is mercy too. And maybe, some nurse will show her love which she would never accept from others, kindness.