Make Your Confession
24 May 2010
Brigit said to Brendan: "Make thy confession." "I declare," said he, "that I never crossed seven furrows without turning my mind to God. Make thy confession," said Brendan. "I confess," said Brigit, "that since I first fixed my mind on God, I have never taken it off, and never will, till doom."
- Anonymous, Vita Brendani (Irish, 12th century, from an earlier ms.)
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
- Colossians 3.1, 2
Brendan came to Brigit - the great 6th century Irish saint - seeking counsel whether there might be some sin in his life. An earlier incident in which he had responded in a wrathful manner was troubling him, and he needed to clear his conscience. He had met with the elders of Ireland, and they had searched the Scriptures together. He'd gone to Britain to meet with the great Gildas. Now, returning to Ireland, he sought the advice of Brigit.
When she asked him for his "confession" she probably meant something like, "Give me a quick summary, in your best way, of your walk with the Lord." Brendan's reply indicated that he didn't go very long in a day without thinking about the Lord (think of how long it takes to walk across seven furrows of newly-plowed ground). Brendan sought the same of Brigit, whose reply must have come as an indictment to the Navigator. She never let her mind drift from the Lord.
Brigid seems to have been saying - poetically, "at a slant", as Emily Dickinson would say - that if there was a sin in Brendan's life it wasn't to be found in the incident that was troubling him. It was to be found in his not setting his mind at all times on the things that are above, which, doubtless, was the cause of his earlier misconduct and, now, of his troubled soul.
What do we think? Does Paul mean it? Set your mind on the things that are above? Not just occasionally, but always, in every situation, in the midst of every task, having as the backdrop of all our thinking and doing the exalted figure of Jesus, reigning in glory, giving direction to our lives? Brendan's sin was a lapse of discipline. Our sin? More of the same.
The disciplined life begins in the presence of Christ, continues in the presence of Christ, and conveys that presence in word and deed at all times. Undoubtedly we are not fixing our minds on Christ as we should; why should it surprise us, then, that our lives are so spiritually shallow, void of power, and lacking in the hope that moves the lost to inquire?
Make your confession: Set your mind - always working harder at doing so - on Jesus.
Today in ReVision: Challenging Settled Assumptions - A lesson from secular economics.
This Week's Download: A Personal Rule - You really need this if you're going to set your mind on Christ.