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Metanoia - A Journey to the Heart


Conjectures of a modern-day Jeremiah (a first-person
account):

The Covenant made by the LORD with my people
was referred to as the Tables of the Law,
Engraved in stone tablets, it signifi ed permanence.
We were a people on whose hearts
the Image and Likeness of God had been
permanently etched.
So when Moses destroyed the tables of the Law
as he saw us regress into worshipping the Golden Calf,
he knew that our hearts were hearts of stone,
not malleable enough, and unwilling to be shaped.
We had taken the "spirit" out of the spiritual.
We were like blotting paper,
absorbing what was written, but getting it all upside down.
When Jesus overturned the money-changers' tables in
the Temple,
it reflected very much Moses' frustration.
It is a hardness of heart
that my mentor, Jeremiah the prophet, recognised.
Our attitude to the Law was skewed.
The breaking of the Law is more than mere non-observance.
It is a refusal to let our hearts be broken instead.
Clinging to the images we have made of God and of
ourselves,
we forget our identity of being made in God's image
and likeness.
The return from Exile to Jerusalem was to be the obverse of
the Exodus.
"An image is not truly an image,
if it does not possess all the characteristics of its pattern.
It is characteristic of divinity to remain incomprehensible.
If the image could be essentially understood
while the original remains incomprehensible,
it would not be an image at all." - 1

The original sin was a feeble attempt to define oneself
in opposition to BEING IN GOD.
We needed to journey inwards,
back to the heart of our being,
to discover that our true identity
like the image of God which we are,
escapes all definition.
It is the longest journey and literally heart-rending.
Idolatry is nothing more than an attempt to define ourselves,
making of ourselves
gods, in our own
image and likeness.
We were children of
the LIGHT,
but of what use is it
if we stand with our
backs to the Sun?
Our shadows
inevitably
accompany us
wherever we go,
and it is not long before we identify with them.
But if, as the poet says, we walk facing the sun,
what images drawn on earth can hold us? - 2

This is the turnaround, the metanoia we were being asked
to make.
The images we had of ourselves had to be done away with;
the broken idols that littered the ruined Temple
were a precondition for an unadulterated experience of the LORD.
There were only a few who saw the return to Jerusalem
as a journey to the heart,
allowing the LORD to transform our stony hearts
into a heart of flesh instead.
What is engraved in stone cannot be emended
without throwing away the stone itself.
The stone that closes the tomb must be rolled away
so that the Risen LORD may emerge.
Like Veronica, we need to allow the LORD
to engrave his law in our hearts,
so that we "recognise" ourselves
to be his image and likeness within us.
It is not accidental that VERONICA
is an anagram of VERA ICON (the true image).
It is indeed the "substance" of the transformation
that takes place, when we begin the journey to the heart.
The rich young man went away sad;
Because, although he had kept the Law,
this was little more than engravings on a tombstone.
He didn't have the courage to roll away the stone;
lacking the poverty of spirit, he had missed the opportunity
to allow the empty tomb within him
to reveal the Risen LORD.

1. Gregory of Nyssa: On the creation of man
2. Kahlil Gibran: The Prophet

 

Christopher Mendonca



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