Sunday, October 16, 2016

What shall it profit a man

The Temptation of Christ, by Eric Armusik
We can increase in empathy, if we take the time to consider what it must be like for a certain soul in his or her situation. That’s what the saying means, ‘walking in another man’s shoes.’ Some religiously minded people practice this kind of meditation with the life of Christ—of course we all do during the services of Holy Week when we relive Christ’s final week on earth with Him—but some do this often, even daily, to sharpen their compassion and empathy. The hoped for result of this contemplation is that we should grow in compassion and empathy for fellow man, but oddly this isn’t always the case.

For me, my meditation on the souls of others is what forces me—yes, ‘forces’ is not too strong a term—to pray for them, sometimes for people who would not be objects for intercession in the daily flow of events. For the past several days I have been considering this: What must be the state of his soul when a man, in this case, Donald Trump, is engaged in a fight to the finish for the United States presidency? And the state of her soul when a woman, in this case, Hillary Clinton, is fighting tooth and nail for the same? Both are poised on a pinnacle of ultimate danger, much like the parapet of the Temple, as was Jesus.

Or atop the peak of a very high mountain, as He also was. From the parapet, or guard-railed roof of the Temple, the tempter suggested He throw Himself down, since, if He really was the Son of God as He knew Himself to be, certainly angels would come to the rescue and not let Him be harmed by His fall. And from the mountain top, the tempter suggested that all the world could be His, if only He would bow down and worship him—a disgusting thought! but one that many a mortal man and woman since that time and before has caved in to, and which forms the major narrative of most of the Bible stories.

Back to the two souls I’ve been thinking about. The state of their souls. What must it be like, what must it feel like, to have to be targeted in such frivolously fierce bombardment with missiles from the past, to have the people who are propping you up on that precarious pinnacle loading your mind (and therefore your soul) with poisonous darts of treachery, some of which you must personally launch? And somewhere on the edges of your daily muse is lurking the knowledge that much of this barrage of assassinoids is simply rubbish, prefab’d for the occasion, fantasy-fused, and for your opponent, fatal.

No one is actually going to get killed—at least, not yet. Is that the thought that edges the soul of each of them, Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton, closer to the abyss, nearer that point where their souls no longer matter to them, because either they’ve taken the plunge into the arms of guardian angels and disappeared into the vault of invincibility? Or because they’ve already bowed down and worshiped the mirage-making, powerless master of illusion that promises everyone only those things they can never really have, whilst handing over to them the very tools of their own literally restless annihilation?

Yes, what is it like to be super-human? For that is what two people, a man and a woman, must be who have to face the perpetual and persistent warfare that is this election year in the United States. And what is it like when each of them, momentarily out of the public eye, must face themselves, whether in a mirror or in the reflection of their consciences? Each of them is still a human soul, but both are poised by forces outside their control for either victory or defeat. Only one will taste the first, the other the second. But when the final vote is tallied, not in this or any election, but at the Judgment Seat, who will be the winner?

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Mark 8:36 KJV

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