Returning to Simplicity

18th century icon of the Prophet Elisha (from the iconostasis of Kizhi Monastery, Russia)

10th week in Ordinary Time, Saturday

1 Kings 19:19-21, Psalm 16, Matthew 5:33-37 

Have you ever had to “think twice?” In our complex society, everything from politics to online shopping usually involves deliberation. Avoidance of swindling is a big business—how many insurance companies and lawyers are there?

This state of affairs has come to be accepted as normal, even wise—Jesus acknowledged this in his parable of the dishonest steward (Luke 16:1-13). 

The forked mind (and forked tongue), however, is a sad departure from the state of primal simplicity enjoyed by paradisal man. Prior to “the knowledge of good and evil,” a condition of pure, childlike trust was the norm. 

Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the Evil One.

At the core of our being where the image of the Trinity is inscribed, simplicity and transparency are the norm. Our spiritual DNA is oriented to love, trust, and abandonment to a loving Father.

In a normal universe, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb… and a little child shall lead them… The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den” (Isaiah 11:6-8).

Oaths are a by-product of the knowledge of good and evil—the splitting of the original, one-eyed mind which was free of suspicion and mistrust, and free to give without holding back.

Another by-product of Adam’s forked mind is the bifurcation of reality into what is of God, and what is not of God. Swearing by heaven, earth, Jerusalem, or one’s own head (without explicitly calling on God as witness) was a loophole to get out of fulfilling a promise. But God owns the whole world and everything in it, Jesus said, including the hairs on your head. Another tendency of the double mind is to give Sunday to God, but set him aside on Monday. All space and time belong to God.

The prophets leading up to Jesus Christ give us glimpses of our original simplicity: Elijah being fed by ravens, and Elisha’s ability to see invisible realities as if they were visible (2 Kings 6:16-17). 

Elisha’s “Yes” to God’s call was wholehearted and simple. He burned all his cash (roasted his oxen for a farewell party) and left with Elijah.

“You are my inheritance, O Lord.”

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