One important principle generally agreed on by experts in communication and problem-solving, is that you cannot solve a problem at the level of consciousness in which the problem was created. Trying to understand and resolve a problem at the level of consciousness in which it was created often leads to the vicious circle which is generally referred to as more of the same! Social problems often repeat themselves and entrap persons in oppositional camps, and this can last for decades. Until a time comes when someone or a group of persons who can envision a broader perspective that both accommodates and transcends the problem, the problem remains unresolved as the solutions proffered at the same level prove stubbornly ineffective. We see this truth played out in our individual lives, in our families, communities and larger society. Broader perspectives are always better than constricted perspectives. It is usually the case in the history of humanity that visionaries with broader perspectives often are persecuted by those with more constricted perspectives. Even in our families, family members with a broader perspective are often ostracized. For example, the disposition to forgive and forge peace is a higher level of consciousness than the mind that keeps score. But often those who seek reconciliation through forgiveness are branded as weak and subservient! Because forgiveness is of a higher consciousness, it frees those who embrace it; while those who keep score, feel entrapped in grudges and hate. It is that simple.

The spiritual perspective of faith is so broad that it takes on every problem in this human world and provides a solution that is often astonishing. For this reason, people of faith have always lived through and transcended even the worst fears of humanity such as death! Jesus knew he was going to be killed in Jerusalem but he was not to be held back because, the vision of life that guided his life far transcended the life that ends at the mortal blow of death. The same is true of the saints who followed his footsteps; same is true of the seven Maccabees sons and their mother who chose to die rather than defy the laws of God imposed upon them by King Antiochus IV (2 Maccabees Ch.7). In many ways, we encounter this challenge: to choose a broader perspective or a restricted perspective.

The dialogue between Jesus and the Sadducees regarding a woman who had married seven brothers one after another (Lk. 20:27-38), is a sample of the clash between restricted and broad perspectives. The Sadducees have no concept of life beyond this world; they do not believe in the resurrection. And so, they could not solve the big problem of whose wife the woman would be at the end of life. Jesus invited them to broaden their perspective, for in the resurrection there is no marriage; everyone is an angel! The problem dissolves right away. In other words, resurrected life is different from the life we live in the flesh in this world. It is the belief in this world of resurrection, in the power of God who can raise the dead to new life, that was the source of courage for the seven sons of Maccabees and their mother, and the many martyrs who have died for the cause of the gospel. At different moments in our lives, we are faced with a choice: to follow the broader perspective of the Gospel values or the more restricted philosophies of this world. We pray for the courage to rise up to the challenge of those encounters that invite us to choose the broader perspective of the Gospel values and bear the cost.

Fr. Cornelius Okeke