Friday, October 8, 2010

Unmasked

I opened my Bible at random today, and it fell open to these words: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Hypocrisy is one of the sins that Jesus was most adamantly opposed to. Nothing could get Jesus so riled up as the hypocrisy of religious folks.

The word “hypocrisy” is a word picture that depicts a person wearing a mask. It is wearisome to think about all the masks that we wear. I don’t need to describe them all. You know them. You are wearing one now, and you will wear a different one in a few minutes when you do something different with different people.

When Christian theology speaks of the triune God as three “persons,” the word is “persona,” which means “mask.” God wears masks. Joseph Campbell wrote a series of books on the mythology of the world called “The Masks of God.”

We wear masks and worship a God who wears masks. The spiritual life is the process of unmasking - revealing who we are and who God is. The Biblical word for this is revelation, which means “unveiling.”

We peel away masks like chefs peeling onions. The more we do it, the smellier it gets, and the more we cry. When we get to the center of it all, there is nothing. Yet that is the substance of it all.

The Bible opens, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep.” That is what is at the center. Buddhists call it sunyata, or emptiness. But it is full emptiness.

It is the full emptiness of a seed. In every seed there is the plant. Yet when you open the seed, you find nothing. In that nothing is the potential for the plant. In the emptiness of the human soul is the seed of the human being. That is what we find behind the masks.

In the Genesis account God spoke into emptiness, and universe began. Out of nothing – ex nihilo – came everything. When we unmask ourselves, we return to that primordial beginning. When we unmask God, we find the Source. Behind the masks, we find ourselves hiding from ourselves, hiding from God.
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Painting is “Sad Masks” by Lidia Simeonova

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