Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lord, have mercy

What do you do with people who break the commandments, but break them in such a beautiful way? Involuntarily and spontaneously this thought arose in my mind when I viewed this image of a man’s forearm tattooed with a depiction of the crucified Christ in realistic perspective.

The quality of the image, if it were applied to canvass, would be remarkable enough, but applied to human skin, and taking into itself one part of the human anatomy, the wrist and hand, elevates its degree of realism to the unimaginable yet imageable that is now and forever a part of one man’s physical body. It is in this body that he shall face the Original on the Day of Judgment.

Now my question and the reality provoking it are elided, and I find myself wondering, if the whole spectrum of scriptural laws from prohibitions to positive commands are really ‘there,’ and for what purpose.

No bother asking the Orthodox Jew, for the laws are for him given through his lawgiver Moses by the God of whom he cries, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.’

No bother asking the fundamentalist, ‘Bible believing’ Christian, for he knows the Book as absolutely, infallibly the exact word falling from God’s lips, as the Muslim knows the Qur’an.

But the ones who have heard and comprehended the words of Jesus, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,’ thus overturning the money-changers’ tables of our moral sense and showing them bankrupt of the real wealth of Divine mercy, these we may ask.

For even the Ten Words scribed in stone by God’s very finger hang still from the Cross of His Son, as He hangs ‘there’ for us, thus overturning everything the world affirms good or evil, and are silenced in the Presence from which there is no excuse or escape.

‘You are not to gash your bodies when someone dies, and you are not to tattoo yourselves. I am Yahweh’ (Leviticus 19:28 JB), says the irrefutable Word, and we winnow it to separate the wheat from the chaff, each according to his need, even I according to mine.

But the Love upon which the whole creation stands, which supplies our every need, which bestows life and soul in the wombs, and life to those in the tombs, says even His law was made for man, not as a curse but as a blessing, and that ‘the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath’ (Matthew 12:8).

So I look on, uncomprehending as any beast of the field, not knowing my left hand from my right as any Ninevite, knowing only by Whose hand the world was created, and by Whose hand it is restored, and that Love covers all offenses, even mine. As for the rest, ‘Lord, have mercy.’

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