Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our Faults Become "Fissures of Men"

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it  -(Prov. 4:23)

Geologically speaking, faults can cause big problems.  A hidden fracture, buried ever so deeply, can devastate the land above, causing horrible earthquakes.

Psychologically speaking, faults can cause big problems.  A hidden fracture, a flaw in our characters, buried ever so deeply, can have similar devastating results.

When we compromise, we become compromised.   We think our secret deal with the devil will go unnoticed - a hairline fracture, buried ever so deeply - a bite of the apple (and who's around to see it?)

But faults have a way of being magnified as they work their way upwards from their hidden source; and then the ground shifts and buildings crumble.

  • I knew a man who was studying for the priesthood.  While he seemed pious and devout, it was obvious to everyone that there was a problem.  The years I knew him, he was utterly unreliable and disorganized to such an extent that he created a chaos and a panic with everything he touched.  Was there a deeper source to these tremors?  Then one day came the earthquake.  Complaints from several people to his superior eventually brought out much of the secret - a pathological addiction to homosexual encounters.  This was not the source of the fracture, but it was an indication of what had been a hidden crack that kept the landscape above jagged and broken for so long.

  • I knew a woman who was a pristine Catholic - pure, devout, caring.  But there were disturbing shakes and rumbles, of increasing alarm on the Richter Scale.  Her boyfriend, for example, was one of the most emotionally troubled people I've ever met (and I've known actors, for crying out loud).  Their relationship was clearly a mistake, but her family had enough financial clout in their diocese to allow the couple to be married without the necessary Marriage Preparation counseling and instruction.  After the wedding, the buildings crumbled and people were trapped in the rubble.  I never knew the source of the fracture, but the fault ran deep - and its source was not just in the woman herself, but in her bizarre and dysfunctional family.

  • Another woman - unmarried, good family, truly faithful, the epitome of virginity.  She was so seriously devout that I suspect she kept her physical purity more or less intact during the whole of her life as a single woman.  But even virgins can be compromised - spiritually speaking. An odd disloyalty and selfishness would sometimes pop up, shaking the placid waters above.  One day a tsunami hit me, from an offshore quake that remained unseen.  The wave that washed in was colored with that pollution I had come to know the stench of - rejection of Church teaching and an abandonment of principles for the sake of expediency.  She was compromised - but these were not sexual compromises - though I suspected some of that was going on, too - for faults have a way of ringing church bells for miles around once they slip.

  • Another man, a famous priest.  A serious and deep fault, a fracture that ran almost to the magma below, spreading in cracks and fissures noticed by some for a long time, by many at the very end when the ground dropped from under this man's feet.  And from the fissures bubbled up lies, falsehoods, untruths.  Eventually, an outright eruption - and his defenders, deliberately blind to his faults, could no longer ignore the volcano that was exploding in their midst.

When Christ dies on the cross, the earth quakes, the rocks are rent, and the graves are opened - freeing some of the dead (Mat. 27:51 & 52).  When Paul is in prison in Philippi, the earth quakes, the doors of the prison are flung open, the very chains holding the prisoners fall away (Acts 16:26).  In Ezekiel's vision, the bones of the dead come together, and the Resurrection is prefigured, after a violent earthquake (Ez. 37:7).

It is then, in some odd way, a happy fault indeed, these faults that we think we so cleverly keep buried within us.  Our faults are happy at least so far as they bring about God's judgment.  For God's judgment is seen in the Consequential - His Reality shows forth in the earthquake - and the earthquake shakes off our shackles, opens our prison doors, blows the tops off our tombs, and rearranges our precious hoard of dead men's bones.

Sometimes, then, the best thing for us is the earthquake.  For then can the fracture be reset, and the unhappy fault happily healed.

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