When we hear the word “possession,” we likely recall the movie “The Exorcist.” Which, by the way, happened at an Alexian Brothers Hospital in St. Louis. And it was a young boy but that’s another topic.
We may also think that possession means being kept, having no control over our lives, being a puppet. Or, it’s all the stuff in our homes that uses the same word. St. Paul uses it as a goal. To paraphrase him, “I haven’t acquired it yet, but I’m working on it. It’s a work in progress.” He calls his goal a “pursuit.”
Every Lenten season calls us to consciously be aware of our pursuit of being possessed by the One who created us. Yet, you’d think that the potter created a beautiful piece of pottery, you and me, so what’s there to possess? Potter, pottery. Pottery, potter! Well, you see, We pottery pieces have a sad tendency of bumping into things, causing cracks and niches here and there. What was created by the Potter as a whole has those tendencies of ours of piecemealing our one piece. Some pieces of us desiring and that piece of ours over there wants and these smaller, but Godly pieces living within us is needs. We act like we’re made out of cement instead of the clay that we all indeed are. The clay pots that all of us are is very fragile, heavily delicate, and genuinely breakable.
Isaiah comes to our rescue, as he often can, and tells us what Confession is all about. “Remember not the events of the past,” he writes, “the things of long ago consider not.” Because, you know, Confession reviews our past with bright eyes firmly planted on the next day and the day after that. Isaiah says, “Desert? Forget about it; God will give you “‘rivers.’”
But back to St. Paul. In similar words to Isaiah, “I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead.” Thank you, St. Paul. There’s that pursuit again. I would have said “looking forward,” but Paul uses a stronger verb – straining to look forward. Do we need new glasses? Wasn’t cataract surgery enough?
As usual, Jesus saves the day with his finger writing hidden messages in the sand. Addressed to those around him. What did he write? Speculations abound. What could Jesus write for you and me to continue our straining pursuit to be fully possessed by our loving and merciful God?