Sunday, April 18, 2021

Svādhyāya - Self Study in the New Covenant

I was asked this week why did God have to sacrifice his son to forgive us why couldn't he just forgive us?

 The partial answer is in one of this week's readings:

 Acts 3:12-19

Peter addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

“And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.”

Like many people I liken the Old Testament "ancestor " relationship and Covenant with God to the relationship of a parent to child. There are lots of rules, misbehaviors, and punishments.  As we move into the New Testament the relationship shifts to an adult relationship where the children are released, thrown out of the nest, and encouraged to fly or think for themselves and move away from "ignorance". Jesus signifies this shift. Like many parents, God too witnesses God’s children, except Jesus, making and learning from their mistakes. But, unlike a child, adult children cannot be constantly saved from their mistakes. This is hard to watch. And in today's age it comes in all forms from a simple bad grade, to choosing a different path then the parent wanted for the child, to a DUI, to drugs, to homelessness, and onward.

We all have been children. We all have different experiences of childhood, and these experiences inform our adulthood. These experiences inform how we parent. These experiences inform how we relate to our adult children, and they to us.  God chooses to be in good relationship with us. God chooses to forgive the mistakes made in adulthood and to move to a new form of relationship with us called a New Covenant.

Some would harken back to the Old Testament, or childhood, to say the events of adulthood, positive and negative, are predictable or prophesied, and if we choose not to learn from our mistakes or sin, and to do better, perhaps they are. But choosing to grow as an adult, to stop repeating bad habits, although hard, is not impossible. There are different ways to do this, but they all hold in common the idea of self-study, or Svādhyāya.  One can turn to meditation, counseling, mentors, books, exercise, etc. to improve one's adult responses to life events, knowing that even when one fails that God (and perhaps our parents) still forgives and loves us. Namaste.


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