Jesus Is Here, Resurrecting Cracked and Broken Hearts
Stories of yearning and transformation
Or, you go to the post office, pick up your stack of junk mail and begin flipping through catalogues. After your first desire to have something new, you suddenly feel a touch of anger and you hear the question in your head, "Why does everyone just want to sell me something? And why does it never really satisfy me?" Or, you read the Bible and don't understand it, you pray and nothing seems to happen, and you're simply sick and tired of trying to be 'religious.'
After your bout with guilt you realize that you want to see what is truly real, but don't know how to see it. In your head you hear the question, "Will all this spiritual 'stuff' really make a difference in my life?"
Or, you suffer the loss of someone you love, or you become very ill. After your shock and sorrow you suddenly realize that all the parties and the shopping trips can't answer the question that throbs inside your soul, "Why is this happening to me? How can I go on?"
Or, you see the end of your own life approaching quicker than you'd like, and you begin to wonder if your life has been lived well. After worrying about what death will be like, the question that slips across your mind is, "How can I come closer to the meaning and truth of life before it's gone?"
These are all examples of what it means to desire something within ourselves that is beyond the day-to-day "ho-hum" of life.
The dilemma is this: How can that desire, that longing be met? How can the desire to be resurrected—to be delivered from hardness of heart—be fulfilled short of joining a monastery?
Jesus gives us the answer. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and gentle in heart and you will find rest for your souls." The Sanskrit word for yoke is yuga and literally means "that which joins."
Jesus names what we cannot name. "Come to me," he says. "Get into the yoke with me. Be joined to me. Walk alongside me, in tandem, and you will find the fulfillment your soul is looking for."
We need only two things to be resurrected: the desire that is yet unmet in our hearts, and the willingness to risk going to Jesus to fulfill that desire. Scripture is replete with examples of those that felt such desire and were willing to take the risk. Let me tell you about three of them.
It was on a hot desert day that Bartimaeus the blind man, reached out to be joined with Jesus in the yoke of simple holiness. More than diseased eyes, he had, not a hardened heart, but a blind heart. He knew the religious formulas because he had grown up with them, but they had not given him genuine spiritual sight.
He heard Jesus coming by and his closed heart began to flutter and open as a tiny newborn robin trying out its wings for the first time. He was hearing "Jesus is here and he wants to resurrect somebody."
Bartimaeus wanted Jesus to stop. He wanted Jesus to notice him. He wanted Jesus to heal him. He wanted to see.
In the midst of the crowds clamoring around Jesus and the disciples who were trying to protect Jesus from those crowds, he wanted to stand out so much that Jesus would have a one-on-one encounter with him.
He cried out and the disciples tried to silence him, so he cried even louder. And Jesus stopped. "What do you want?" Jesus asked him. "I want to see."
When those empty visionless eyes were given sight, the blind heart of Bartimaeus began to beat wildly and his desire 'to see' became the desire for resurrection that joined him to Jesus.
"Jesus is here and he wants to resurrect somebody." Bartimaeus was willing to step into the resurrection clothes.
In the black of the desert night where only stars and an occasional wild dog are seen, Nicodemus slipped away from his house to find Jesus. He was one of the bright, educated, religious leaders. He had greatness of age and stature.
He was filled with learning, spiritual words and practices of holiness. He had not a hardened heart, but a blank heart. He taught others and debated with others about matters of faith, but he was aware that something was missing. His status and place in the religious establishment made him fearful to seek Jesus in daylight.
But it was not only fear for his reputation that kept him from seeking Jesus in the midst of day. He also feared his own lack of understanding.
But he was driven to Jesus in spite of his fear. Though his fear could have held him back, he wanted to hear truth. He wanted to be exposed to the reality of his own folly. He wanted to find the place where hope and holiness meet. He wanted to know.
His somewhat hardened, but certainly blank, heart had not yet been resurrected but he was hearing, "Jesus is here and he wants to resurrect somebody." Jesus pierced in two the smart religious talk of Nicodemus and in the breach between full truth and half-truth; his desire 'to know' became the desire for resurrection that joined him to Jesus. "Jesus is here and he wants to resurrect somebody." Nicodemus was ready to don the resurrection clothes.
It was another desert evening dinner party for Mary. She had helped prepare the house and the meal but her mind and heart were eager for the guest of honor to arrive. The hour finally came and in he walked.
She knew her role as a woman. She knew she was supposed to keep her distance, stay out of sight, serve and attend to the needs of the guests. But she could not help herself. Her heart was not hardened, but hungry. When she saw Jesus, her hungry heart heard "Jesus is here and he wants to resurrect somebody."
Suddenly she knew what she wanted more than anything else. She wanted to be with him. She wanted to listen to him. She wanted to hear the wisdom that came from his lips. She wanted to sit at his feet and be enveloped in his being and presence. Every fiber of her hungry heart reached out in hopes that even she, a woman, might be given the chance to have her heart resurrected.
She risked ridicule from Jesus as well as wrath from her sister because her desire was so strong. The dreaded moment came. Sure that Jesus would reprimand Mary, her sister Martha spoke out to Jesus that Mary was not fulfilling her duties as a woman and hostess, and that she was not helping with the work that needed to be done.
Mary's tender heart felt as if it would stop. Would Jesus humiliate her? Would she be forced to leave the one who gave meaning to the yearning of her heart? Would her desire be forever unmet? "Martha," Jesus said, "Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her." Mary's desire 'to sit in Jesus' presence' became the desire for resurrection that joined her to Jesus. "Jesus is here and he wants to resurrect somebody." Mary was ready to be clothed in resurrection.
These three recognized that something was missing in their lives and they knew that Jesus was the one who could give it to them. One wanted to see. One wanted to know. One wanted to sit. They went to Jesus and in the shadows of their limited understanding, they slipped into the yoke with Jesus and felt the freedom of being joined with him.
Each of them found
that resurrection of their heart was not what they might have imagined it to be. They found that resurrection is not about fulfilling religious duties. Resurrection is about being joined to Jesus.
What's going on in your heart? Where has the heat of life hardened your heart? Where are the cracks and fissures that have left you feeling deadened and dull? Where is your hunger? For what do you yearn?
Don't be afraid to feel that desire even if you cannot articulate clearly what it is. Go to Jesus and tell him what you want.
All my life I've
been on a road,
Going one way, toward one dream.
The road would wind
And down it I would go,
Always searching, never finding
But even in my darkest hour I always knew,
That someday, somehow the road would lead to you.
Listen to my
heart, listen to it sing,
Listen to my voice, it wants to tell you everything.
There's so much to say,
I don't know where to start,
But if you want to know the love I'm feeling
Listen to my heart.
(from "Listen to My Heart" by David Friedman, ©1995 Midder Music)
And Jesus will listen to your heart. Then, when he says to you, "Get into the yoke with me, be joined with me." Don't PANIC!! Slowly slide into the yoke of holiness and find your soul's rest.
I called through
"The mystics are gathering in the street. Come out!"
"Leave me alone. I'm sick."
"I don't care if you're dead! Jesus is here, and he wants to resurrect somebody!"
Copyright ©2003 Renee Miller
Excerpted from a homily delivered at the Lenten Noonday Preaching Series at Calvary Episcopal Church, Memphis, Tennessee, on April 9, 2003.