Tag Archives: Gospel of Mark

Matthew’s Gospel

So far in this blog the focus has been Mark’s Gospel. Now it’s time to turn to Matthew. The author of this gospel had a copy of Mark and borrowed passages from it. Perhaps he had a more strongly Jewish background. Although he follows Mark’s general pattern, he expands it a lot, usually with Jewish Christian readers in mind. Some scholars suggest Matthew mirrored the Pentateuch (the first five books of what Christians call the Old Testament) with his own five sections:

  1. The Sermon on the Mount. Chapters 5, 6 and 7
  2. Instructions for the twelve Apostles. Chapters 9 verse 35 to 10 verse 42.
  3. Parables. Chapter 13.
  4. Community regulations. Chapter 18.
  5. Condemnations and judgements. Chapters 23, 24 and 25.

There’s a wrap-up verse or two, the scholars suggest, at the end of each of these sections: Chapters 7 verses 28-29; 11 verse 1; 13 verse 53; 19 verse 1; and 26 verses 1-2.

So, focusing on Jesus as a Wisdom Teacher, the elusive Jesus of Nazareth (please see my very first blog post for this approach) we start with John the Baptist in chapter 3 who had an important influence on Jesus. John baptises Jesus and it’s clearly a profound experience for him (for Jesus, I mean). Following Mark here, Matthew goes straight on to Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness in chapter 4 verses 1 to 11. He expands Mark’s terse account (Mark chapter 1 verses 12 and 13) in a way which later Christians found helpful as they searched in the third and fourth centuries for clues about the spirituality of Jesus. These ‘desert fathers’ as they are called (though women were probably involved as well) had gone into the Egyptian desert to try and recover the essence of Christian spirituality. They spotted that Jesus dealt with temptation by using verses of scripture. Remember, no one was actually there in the desert with Jesus so he must have taught his followers this technique for coping with temptation.

You don’t believe in the devil? Neither do I but sometimes it feels as if what goes on in my mind is part of a deliberate policy to unsettle me! Perhaps Matthew did believe in the devil. It doesn’t matter. The point is that temptation is taken seriously here in chapter 4. “If you are the Son of God…..” The lure of the first two temptations is, ‘so you think you have a calling? think you’re someone special do you? Well then, surely you should have these special powers’. On holiday recently I found myself thinking, ‘what’s the point of all my meditating when it doesn’t make me special? All these people around me on this lovely sunny Greek island seem quite happy without all the spiritual stuff that I try to practice. Surely I ought to stand out from the crowd?’ But, what if I stop expecting anything special? What if I carry on with my daily spiritual routine without any expectation? What if I just try to be present, to live each moment as it comes, without foresight, without forethought? Hmm! Jesus had something to say about that kind of attitude in what we call the sermon on the mount, later in this Gospel. 

“All these I will give you……” This, the third temptation, is still surprisingly relevant to me, even in my ninth decade. I can still find myself regretting my lack of achievement, feeling I should have ‘made it’ in some way; or that I haven’t been recognized enough. This is the temptation to enter the kingdom of ego and pursue power, profit and reputation at the expense of truth. Of course younger people should exercise power, create profitable businesses, be successful politicians. Without all this human society can hardly function. The temptation however is to lose sight of the truth about who we are, to forget our essential vulnerability, to lose touch with the still, silent, immense Presence at the heart of the universe that therefore is at the heart of each one of us. More on these temptations in my next blog post in about a week’s time.

Entering Jerusalem

Mark’s Gospel chapter 11.

Suppose Jesus had lived to a ripe old age. Would the truth of his teaching be diminished? I think not. Plenty of people (of all religious persuasions and none) have lived this truth, and many have died for it. This blog is dedicated to the recovery of Jesus as a Wisdom Teacher rather than a Saviour. I don’t want to belittle those believers for whom Jesus is their saviour, the one who died for them on a cross. I do, however, want to affirm another way of following him.

I have to confess I have a problem with this part of the Church’s year, called Holy Week. It’s based on the account of the final few days of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, covered in detail in all four Gospels. Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of Christ seemed to take an almost sado-masochistic delight in the suffering inflicted by Roman authorities on anyone they regarded as a criminal. I notice a physical sensation of sickness and dread in my stomach even as I write this now, with images of crucifixion coming unbidden to mind. Does it help to concentrate on how they killed Jesus? In my case at least, the answer is, no. What matters, for me, is having my eyes opened (like Bartimaeus in chapter 10) to the truth of Jesus’ teaching. Of course I freely acknowledge that he demonstrated dramatically and painfully the truth of his teaching.

Exactly what happened in those last few days of Jesus’ life is difficult to discern. Actual historical facts are shrouded in what today we might call spin. As the earliest Christian communities reflected on the life transforming experience they were all part of it was natural for them to search what we now call the Old Testament for clues. Turn to Zechariah chapter 9 verse 9 and you will find a reference to the future King of Israel entering Jerusalem on a donkey. If Jesus deliberately entered Jerusalem in this way, he wanted to make a point based on the Zechariah passage, but it must have been a subtle one because later when Pilate asks him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus replies, in effect, ‘Well that’s your word’, as if to say, ‘it’s not as simple as that’. What we know of the teaching of Jesus is that he certainly would not want to be thought of as a ruler who lorded it over his subjects would he? Nothing could be further from the truth of his teaching, could it?

Of tyrants and servants

Mark’s Gospel chapter 10 verses 32 – end

Mark keeps giving us hints about the fate of Jesus. Here’s another one in verses 32 – 34 with its dramatic picture of Jesus striding ahead on the road to Jerusalem, the disciples struggling to keep up. “What’s he up to? Doesn’t he realise Jerusalem is a dangerous place for him?”

Verses 35 – 45 also give us another of Mark’s favourite themes: the failure of the disciples to get it. They think Jesus is going to turn everything upside down when he gets to Jerusalem by becoming the great promised Messiah, the king of Israel. James and John have a request: “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”  There’s a wonderful irony in Jesus’ reply:

“…..to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” (verse 40)

Of course he cannot grant James and John’s request! His ‘throne’ will be a cross and those on either side of him will be two thieves.

The other disciples are angry that James and John are trying to steal a march on them and get positions of privilege in the kingdom that Jesus keeps talking about. Remember, the gospels were written up to 40 years after the death of Jesus. The authors were part of the rapidly emerging Christian church. Did Mark keep returning to the disciples’ failure to get it because there were already struggles for power among the leaders of those young communities?

“You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognise as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.” (verse 42)

Hmmm! So nothing much changes then! Plenty of tyrants around today. How difficult it is for us to get it. Perhaps it really is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for us to become servants and give our lives for others.

Talking of tyrants, they don’t have to be political rulers. Think of the alarming spread of modern forms of slavery.

Chapter ten ends with the healing of a blind man. Mark is hinting at the possibility of healing for all of us who don’t get it:

“Go, your faith has made you well.’

Immediately Bartimaeus regains his sight (he gets it in ways that James and John obviously didn’t) and he follows Jesus on the way. Where were they heading? Jerusalem, where Jesus was to demonstrate the ultimate in not being a tyrant. We’ve got to chapter 11 in Mark’s Gospel which begins with Jesus entering Jerusalem. Let’s look at that in tomorrow’s entry in this blog.

We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song

These two weeks are called Passiontide in the church’s Calendar. They focus on the last two weeks of Jesus’ life. By coincidence my journey in this blog through Mark’s Gospel enters the writer’s build up through the story to the trial and execution of Jesus. Here in chapter nine verse 31 the author puts some editorial words into the mouth of Jesus:

The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed he will rise again.

Of course Jesus knew the risk he took in going to Jerusalem and no doubt he tried to prepare his followers for trouble but as usual Mark reveals the disciples’ lack of understanding. These words bear the quality of Mark’s hindsight.

But hang on! All of us Christians have the benefit of hindsight. As a memorable poster once proclaimed: “We are an Easter people and alleluia is our song.” Which is why I find these two weeks leading up to Easter somewhat difficult. They demand that I forget that I am already part of the Easter experience in order to relive, in some liturgical detail, the events that led up to the death of Jesus. Why? Because the Gospel writers (and the church) are keen to help me interpret what happened to Jesus in the light of the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament to Christians). They want me to see Jesus as a saviour. But as you can see from the heading to this blog,  my purpose is to recover the idea of Jesus as a Wisdom Teacher. He is a teacher who offers ‘salvation’ but not, in my experience, because he ‘died for my sins’. Rather, he shows me the way and teaches me how to walk it. His demonstration of the way included his willingness to die and plenty of his followers have likewise been willing to follow that way to a similar end. Christians were known at first as followers of The Way. We are offered a way to live, not a set of beliefs to accept.

So I wish Easter came before Holy Week in the church’s calendar if only to try and avoid some of the misunderstanding that surrounds the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. The miracle is that so much of his teaching still shines through the spin so quickly put on it even among the earliest followers of the Way. Some of these misunderstandings are dealt with in the next verses of chapter nine. I’ll take a look at them in my next blog entry.

The still small voice

St Mark’s gospel chapter 9

“Then came Jesus, whose distinctive, original voice I have argued can still be heard through the conversations of his followers which have shaped the Gospel text.” (Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, ‘Silence: a Christian History’ page 219) 

But sometimes those conversations become so loud that the voice of Jesus is drowned out. Biblical scholars can interpret the conversations for us but when they have done their work we are left with the challenge: how much of it is relevant for me here in the 21st century? What resonates with my experience now? How can I respond from the heart?’ In 1963 a couple of Jews turned Christians published a book with the startling title, ‘God Is No More’. (A phrase, by the way, from a William Blake poem). Introducing it they wrote:

“At such a time, when the centre of life has been evacuated for its suburbs and the father’s furniture moved into the spare room, we become free – for better, for worse – for a new beginning…..we could once again listen attentively and without prejudice to the words of and about the man Jesus of Nazareth. We are no longer tempted to fit those words into a system – there are no systems left, except in the spare room. We need not try to fit them into the religious thought forms of our age – there is little religion left except in the suburbs. Today we could be met by the simple, ‘naked’, ‘untheologised’ words of Jesus, and if we are lucky they will disturb, frighten, shock and puzzle us – as life itself…..Now the words concerning Jesus consist of words about him and of words alleged to have been spoken by him. It is not easy to draw the line between these two kinds of words. ….But I believe that in most instances the imaginative ear can still pick out the sound of an intensely personal, hopeful and human voice.” (Werner & Lotte Pelz, ‘God Is No More’ page 12/13)

“…an intensely personal, hopeful and human voice” the Pelz’s wrote. It’s the consistent message of this blog that to discover and hear echoes of that voice is to receive a message which resonates with the spiritual longing of increasingly large numbers of people. It’s a message with echoes in Buddhism, and some aspects of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and elsewhere.  Tomorrow I’ll listen for echoes of that voice in chapter 9 of Mark’s Gospel.

Mark’s Gospel chapters 7 and 8

Ever since someone divided our New Testament documents into chapters and verses (13th and 15th centuries) we have been tempted to read them in bite sized chunks. The habit is encouraged for most of us who generally hear a short passage read aloud every Sunday in church. So we take a verse out of its context or we take a whole story out of the framework created by the author. But none of the Gospel writers simply strung his stories together in random fashion. They wanted us to see a pattern, like beads on a necklace: each bead enhanced by its neighbour and the whole necklace shining beautifully as one.

So let’s consider chapters 7 & 8 of Mark’s Gospel. Following the helpful headings provided by the editors of the New Revised Standard Version: in chapter 7 we have:

  • The tradition of the elders;
  • the Syrophoenician woman’s faith;
  • Jesus cures a deaf man.

Chapter 8 follows on with:

  • Feeding the four thousand;
  • the demand for a sign;
  • Jesus cures a blind man at Bethsaida;
  • Peter’s declaration about Jesus;
  • Jesus foretells his death and resurrection. 

Why did Mark string these particular beads together in this order? I suggest they are all about people who didn’t get it, where ‘it’ is the teaching of Jesus about the secret of the true self: the good news about who we truly are.

So the sequence starts with the Pharisees for whom tradition and ritual purity were important. Then Jesus meets a non-Jew (a woman too!) who isn’t as blind as the Pharisees. Next we have someone who cannot hear and therefore cannot speak properly. Chapter 8 begins with the feeding of four thousand people but it is followed by a demand for a sign from those Pharisees who simply cannot see what has just happened. But the blind man at Bethsaida has his eyes opened (after a false start in which he sees only partially). Peter, in the final part of this sequence, has his eyes partially opened but then he too gets it wrong and is rebuked. Jesus explains, then, how Peter has got it wrong. The editors of the New Revised Standard Version include chapter 9 verse 1 in this sequence (suggesting that the original division between chapters 8 & 9 is unhelpful) so that it ends with the verse: “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

So, is this a sequence about some purely historical events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth? I suggest that is the least helpful way of reading it; indeed such a reading actually obscures the meaning. So then, ignoring questions like, ‘Did these events actually happen?’ the question arises, who is it that didn’t get it, and what was it that they didn’t get?

It was (is) not only those first disciples who didn’t fully understand the message of Jesus; nor did they know what to think about Jesus himself as a person (see chapter 8 verses 32/32 for Peter’s confusion). It was (is) the same with the emerging community of followers who became known as Christians. Like Peter who thought he knew what his expected Messiah should be like and how he should behave; like that blind man who thought he could see trees walking; like that gentile, Syrophoenician woman who knew nothing of the niceties of Jewish theological thought; like the deaf man who couldn’t hear what Jesus was saying; like those Pharisees who wanted proof after the feeding of the four thousand; none of them really ‘got it’ and therefore could not see that “the kingdom of God has come with power”.

This blog is called The Now New Testament because it tries to relate to these ancient documents as if they contain partially hidden truth which sometimes we ‘get’ and sometimes we don’t get and because the only time we can get it is Now, provided always that we are willing to lose (let go of ) lots of our suppositions and preconceived ideas about what it is that we should get. “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake….will save it.”

Tradition, tradition

Libby Purves, writing in yesterday’s Times (of London), says “Leaders, being human, like to bolster their authority. Many religions feel a need to differentiate themselves by imposing detailed rules of life.”  She concludes, “Religions, too, should ask, how much is non-negotiable? What truly relates to the vital spiritual core and how much is barnacled cultural accretion, outdated and unnecessary to the essential flame you tend?”

The Pharisees who confront Jesus in Chapter 7 of Mark’s Gospel, verses 1 – 13, are adamant that his disciples are breaking the rules about ritual cleansing. Mark gives us a series of arguments against unnecessary religious, ritualistic rules. The style here suggests more the conflict of the earliest Christian communities in Israel with their Jewish neighbours, rather than actual arguments between Jesus himself and the Pharisees. However, Mark rounds this passage off in verse 14 with words that do have the authentic ring of Jesus.

“….Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”

What defiles? See verses 21 and 22. It’s ‘evil intentions’ that defile us: “fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.”

What is it that is defiled? “A person”, says verse 23. Skip for a moment to chapter 8 verse 36: (and I prefer the New English Bible translation here) “What does a person gain by winning the whole world at the cost of his true self?”

Advertisers like to entice us with the promise of things we can paste on, put on, or take in which, they claim, will enhance our true selves. They are the modern, secular equivalent of those Pharisees who thought that ritual purity was a necessary part of the way to a true self. Chapters 7 and 8 of Mark’s Gospel are full of people who didn’t get it – the secret of the true self I mean. I’ll be trying to decipher what Mark is pointing to in the  next post on this blog.

Mark’s gospel chapter 6. Knowing you, knowing me.

Then Jesus said to them, Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house. (verse 4)

Jesus is back where he grew up. ‘Ah! Jesus! Yes. I remember him. Carpenter, isn’t he? Mary’s son. Wandered off on some crazy tour leaving his brothers and sisters to do all the work back here.’

We like to know where someone is ‘coming from’, as the saying goes. We like to pin people down: slot them into categories so that we know how to react to them. We keep a whole database of categories in our heads for this very purpose: young, sexy, drunken layabout, dynamic, intelligent, posh, doddery to name a few. Our brains are lightening quick at choosing a slot for the person we have just met. What’s more, our database includes stuff we’ve stored away about people we know well. I say, ‘know well’ but that is often the problem. People in Jesus home town were sure they knew him well but, clearly, their knowledge was getting in the way.

There are at least two kinds of ‘knowing’ about people. The first is mostly to do with the roles they play: business person, parent, husband, wife, doctor, patient, victim, persecutor; the list is endless and often quite useful. We ‘know where we are’ when we play a role. We don’t expect the doctor to have a long chat with us about the party she enjoyed last night and the doctor can rightly expect us to get to the point quickly about the symptoms we’ve got. A child has a right to be nurtured. In exceptional circumstances children are brilliant at nurturing a parent who needs it, but we all recognise that these are exceptional circumstances and that an immature adult who expects to be nurtured by a child is damaging the relationship.

The message of Jesus focuses on the second kind of knowing. This is not knowing about someone. It is entering into a relationship with them, without foresight, without prejudice, without forethought, without demands or expectations but simply in open, hopeful trust. Such encounters make us vulnerable and of course, sometimes we can be hurt. If someone produces a knife, it’s probably time to leave, quickly! But at least let’s start our encounters (perhaps especially with those we think we know well) in open trust.

Mark’s gospel chapter 5 verses 21 – end

I am an old man now so it’s important that I do not try to cross the road while talking on my mobile phone. Multi-tasking is no longer a safe option for me as my senses become duller with age. In any case, doing one thing at a time is, according to Zen Buddhism, the way to enlightenment. For older people it’s also a good way to avoid accidents.

 Verses 22-35. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw [Jesus] fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live. So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who….. had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well .…..Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’…….He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease’.

In this section of Mark’s gospel Jesus is responding to an urgent plea for help from a father whose daughter is seriously ill. He’s on his way to their house, surrounded by a pressing crowd. Among them is a chronically ill woman who reaches out to touch him. In spite of the commotion around him, Jesus notices and feels her touch. I think he’s doing one thing at a time, don’t you? He is not feeling rushed by Jairus’s urgent concern for his daughter. He is on his way to help but he is still aware of the present moment. As the saying goes, ‘wherever you go, there you are’.

Here in central London they have recently started broadcasting a safety notice on the Underground, (the ‘Tube’) reminding travellers that trains run every few minutes so there’s no need to risk an accident by hurrying on the escalators or the platforms. Just the other day a young woman slipped and fell on the platform in front of me as she rushed to beat the closing doors of the train about to leave. Especially in a busy city the sense of not wanting to be ‘here’ because I am desperate to get ‘there’ becomes an ingrained habit.

“It’s all right for him,” do I hear you say? “He’s retired. He’s got plenty of time. He’s got nothing to worry about.” True (apart, perhaps, from the last of those statements) but just consider the widespread popularity of techniques to help people relax, to learn ‘mindfulness’, meditation, yoga and so on. Younger people are clearly not happy with rushing everywhere. They are willing to pay good money to learn techniques that ought to be freely available in any Christian community (though sadly they often are not). Doing one thing at a time requires a basic sense of trust; hard to cultivate if your job is threatened, or you are late to collect the children from school, or money is so short that you have to use a Food Bank.

Right at the beginning of this gospel, Mark summarises the message of Jesus like this:

The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news’. (See the first post of this blog).

It is good that human beings can multi-task with such skill, but when this skill blinds us to the fact that the time (that is each present moment) is fulfilled – filled full of promise – then we are losing sight of what it means to be truly human. There’s a nice touch in a 1960s science fiction novel (Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein) about a human being who has been raised by Martians. Apparently Martians, who live for centuries, know how to wait. When Valentine Michael Smith arrives back on earth he discovers that his fellow humans lack this skill of waiting. To cover up any embarrassment for them he learns to wait faster. He does this so well that there are times when he appears to be waiting at breakneck speed. There’s a difference between hurrying and waiting at speed!

Mark’s Gospel chapter 2 verses 1 -12. Forgiveness

The colours of the rainbow are beautiful but without sunlight they would not exist. The teaching of Jesus is pure, undivided sunlight but it helps if we pass it through a prism so we can see all its rainbow colours. This is what Gospel writers do. In my first blog post I looked at Mark chapter 1 verse 15 which gives us the themes of time, kingdom and repentance. Now, in this story at the beginning of chapter 2 we get a fourth vibrant colour of Jesus’ teaching – forgiveness. The story appears in all four gospels which is unusual. In John’s version the Scribes object to the healed paralytic carrying his mat on the Sabbath. For the three synoptic Gospel writers it’s Jesus’ claim to forgive sins which upsets the Scribes. Here is Mark’s version (which Matthew and Luke have borrowed) but I’ve shortened it for the sake of brevity in this post.

3. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. 4. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and …they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’  …. 10. ‘But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority of earth to forgive sins’ – he said to the paralytic – 11. ‘I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.’

Several of Jesus’ parables shed light on the power and primacy of forgiveness. He had infinite compassion for those who felt they were no good at following in his way. Paul of Tarsus understood the power and necessity of forgiveness. “Wretched man that I am”, he writes in his letter to the Romans, “who will deliver me from this body of death?” His answer follows immediately: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

What inhibits my ability to follow the way of Jesus is the power of my mind to drag me away from the present moment in which the kingdom lies hidden. I am booby trapped with land mines of the past and sometimes consumed with fear about the future. I have experienced the trauma of being a vulnerable infant in a world which is blind to the kingdom. Then there is that primitive, animal part of my brain which still, after millennia of evolution, tries to ask of any unknown situation, ‘Do I fight it? Run away from it? Eat it? Mate with it?’

Beset by all that paralyses me, forgiveness is the dynamic key that sets me free to pick up my mat and follow the path that Jesus has mapped out for humanity. Forgiveness has very little to do with the past, except when guilt, resentment, and pain cripple me now in the present and so blind me to the power and Presence of the kingdom. Most writers on the practice of contemplative prayer urge gentleness as we deal with all that distracts us from the reality of the Presence. To observe without judgement but with gentle awareness all the antics of our minds is to practice forgiveness.

Some people, of course, have been so deeply hurt by the brutality of others that forgiveness does not come easily to them even though lack of it prevents them from moving on. The press often suggests that a public enquiry will bring closure for child abuse victims, for example. Of course public enquires into child abuse are an essential tool but they do not enable the victims to move on into abundant life. Only the practice of forgiveness can do that.

And here’s a startling truth. Forgiveness cannot be practiced without confession. What?! A child abuse victim should ‘confess’?!! Yes, if by ‘confession’ we mean a total, unconditional, non-judgemental acceptance of myself just as I am now in this present moment, with all my pain about the past; all my hope for the outcome of an enquiry into the abuse or the trial and conviction of my abuser. When I adopt this attitude of total acceptance of the way things are for me at this moment, suddenly forgiveness is at work. For deeply hurt people the process will take time and outside help may well be needed but sooner or later the truth will dawn that the dynamic of forgiveness is always, unconditionally available. Then the outcome of any enquiry becomes irrelevant at least for the victim’s spiritual and psychological health and wholeness. They are able to ‘take up their mat and walk in the pure sunlight of the Presence which Jesus called ‘Abba, Father’.

Forgiveness is not a mental activity that I can exercise at will, just by thinking about it. I enter into it when I ‘repent’ and discover that it is part of that total, ongoing experience which Christians have called the Resurrection, the ever present, pure sunlight of the Presence.