We all need to be released from something – Easter Sunday 2016

Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, 27 March 2016.
By John Abbate.


In two paintings by Caravaggio, the Supper at Emmaus and Doubting Thomas, the gestures of the characters betray the magnitude of the event depicted. It is the “shock of the new,” said Dr Macnab. Jesus is revealed as risen from the dead. It changes everything for the assembled witnesses. The past falls away, and a new vista opens onto a future pregnant with possibility. Whatever went before, all are now released into a new world.

In the Nazi concentration camps, Victor Frankl could write of the freedom to choose one’s attitude. Even when life is at its worst, in the most shocking circumstances, that freedom to choose remains.

Dr Macnab lists a few of the things that can take hold of us: negativity, anger, anxiety, self-hate, revenge obsessions, blocked growth, neurotic attachments, persistent sorrows, painful mistakes and griefs. We all have a desire and need to be released from something.

“Release means giving up attachment to our old way,” said Dr Macnab, “and discovering that there is an alternative way.” We tend to overlook the “theology of an alternative way.” We become blocked, locked in, stuck in our present condition.

But there is a dynamic aspect to the human personality. A reorientation and growth in our way of being is possible. “The resurrection in our time is about the human personality,” said Dr Macnab, “…growing beyond its past, growing through its traumas…to a new way of being.”

Dr Macnab summarises his address with these six ways to find release:

  1. A change of attitude. Events may not change, but our attitude can.
  2. The search for the alternative.
  3. Recognise that the self-needs constant repair work and reconstruction to clear away the blockages.
  4. A change in the focus of our energy and strength.
  5. The search for substitutes; soothers, replacements, consolations, and comforts.
  6. Build a connection with a fantasy of the future that is stronger than any attachments to the past.

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