Friday, October 26, 2012

Blazing Clear Like Oedipus Rex

It is our human condition.  Pagans know it.  We all know it.  We all try to run and hide from it. We run and run, sometimes exhausting ourselves.  Rushing to and fro until we can rush no longer.  But there is nowhere to find shelter.  We are in a flight situation.  Fleeing without destination.  Fleeing for life and limb.  What are we trying to hide from?

 It is guilt and shame.  We all have it because we are all guilty.  We all have pasts we would like to erase.   Even the goody two-shoes have guilt and shame.  Oedipus, the pagan king, had guilt and shame.  He tried to outrun it by gouging out his eyes.  That did not absolve Oedipus from any of his actions, though. Oedipus knows that he is the man.  There is a deeper, underlying question that pagans cannot answer.

Who are we trying to hide from?  We are trying to hide from the true God.  Sophocles, the author of Oedipus, just like all of humanity, had God's law written on his heart and knew right from wrong as is evidenced by the play.  Here are some excerpts:

"My birth all sprung revealed from those it never should; myself entwined with those I never could; and I the killer of those I never would."

Oedipus rips the golden brooches she was wearing, holds them up, and rams them home right through his eyes.

"O yes, I pierced my eyes -- my useless eyes --why not?  When all that's sweet and parted from my vision."

Sophocles lived before Jesus' incarnation, and it was the Jews that had prophets proclaiming the revealed God of promise.  Today, unlike Sophocles' day, we have more preachers who can deliver to us the justifying God.  You do not have to be like Oedipus, beating yourself up, exhausting yourself, damaging yourself because you know that you, too, are the guilty one.  You can find your rest from your guilt and shame that continues to haunt you.

The promise of God has come.  Jesus, the one true God, has forgiven you your sins.

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