Can you explain 1 John 3 20?
Sermon on 1 John 3:20
Father Elmar Busse
“Even if the heart accuses us, God is greater than our heart and he understands everything” (1 Jn 3:20)
Those of you who like to drink coffee with condensed milk will know them: the small plastic jugs that first have to be pressed hard on the tab on the upper edge. Then the edge breaks exactly at the edge so that you can pull the tab upwards. Then the milk can easily be poured into the cup through this opening. If you then press the tab downwards, the milk jug is tightly closed by the slightly conical edge. Mike Krüger can describe it in an even more humorous way ("You first have to pull the nipple through the flap."). Technicians call this construction a “predetermined breaking point”. There used to be predetermined breaking points not only in plastic milk jugs, but also in glasses frames. In 1972 the Hamburg master optician Günther Fielmann founded a shop in Cuxhaven. Fielmann recognized a niche in the market in the business with cash register glasses, which were not very popular due to their unattractiveness. The choice of models was very limited, there were six plastic frames for adults and two for children. And these cash racks were designed in such a way that they had to break under everyday stress. The bill of the manufacturers of till frames at the time worked out: Many disgruntled glasses users bought the expensive glasses frames with the money out of their own pockets. In 1981 the optician signed a special contract with the AOK and created 90 models made of metal and plastic in 640 variants. In doing so, he ended the era of uniform checkout glasses. In his first television interview, Günther Fielmann demonstrated this incorrect design of the cash racks, which the manufacturers deliberately wanted but kept secret.
Farmers also know about predetermined breaking points. If you mount any connecting devices on your tractor, e.g. a grass mower or a manure spreader, the force is transmitted via a comparatively thin shaft that breaks under extreme loads. Of course, one could reproach the designers for not dimensioning the shaft larger, but the point of this predetermined breaking point is that in the event of any blockages, the complicated and therefore expensive gears are not damaged, but only the easily replaceable shaft breaks. In the past, there was even a log in the power transmission chain for the bar mower on the tractor. If a stone or a piece of wood got between the knives, it was that round piece of wood that broke and not the blade.
So predetermined breaking points make perfect sense - both in agricultural machinery and in milk jugs.
But how is it with us humans? There are many counselors out there on how to educate ourselves to be able and well-functioning people. Father Kentenich can be classified into the ranks of the great reform pedagogues at the beginning of the 20th century, who - quite unusual for the circumstances at the time - began with the young people's desire for freedom and the longing for independence. With his teaching and his practice of the personal ideal as well as the written controlled spiritual agenda and the particular exam (= special resolution) he had broken new ground in self-education. And the result? - Of course it was a pleasure for him to see how the knot burst with many boys and how they made the best of themselves. Or later, when some shy wallflower came to him in the novitiate of the newly founded community of sisters - there he was able to help these young women to really blossom. But at some point even the most ambitious and talented boy came to a point where, despite all the effort, it could not go any further. At this limit other abilities were suddenly required: Can I say yes to the fact that I am not the good Lord? Can I say goodbye to the youthful fantasies of omnipotence, as they appear again and again as a consistent motif in the James Bond films, in Spiderman or Superman? Can I accept that I am only a small creature - dependent on someone who loves me compassionately? Most of Kentenich's protégés got there much earlier. And some simply brought the suffering at their break point with them from childhood.
If we look in the Old Testament, then man was made in the image of God. But then Adam and Eve failed and the break was there.
The Church's doctrine of original sin makes it clear that God thought man to be healed, that will, understanding and spirit formed a unity. The paradisiacal person could also want what he had recognized as good without any problems and react with the heart to the good through good feelings. There was a break with original sin. Man lost that donum integritatis, so the gift of integrity. Will, mind and spirit can pull in various directions. Paul describes man's suffering from his unredeemed condition very drastically in Romans chapter 7: “Because I do not understand what I am doing: I do not do what I want, but what I hate. But when I do what I don't want, I acknowledge that the law is good. But then it is no longer me who acts like this, but the sin dwelling in me. I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, there is nothing good; the will is there with me, but I am not able to realize the good. Because I don't do the good that I want, but the bad that I don't want. But if I do what I do not want, then it is no longer I who act, but the sin dwelling in me. "(Rom 7,17, -20)
If we are honest, then we know about our breaking points, and if we are humble, then we can also affirm them. The closed milk jug is opened by the pressure on the predetermined breaking point. We humans experience our predetermined breaking point in moments of stress. But the divine meaning of this experience does not lie in the subsequent self-contempt or in running away from one's own shadow. The divine meaning lies in the possibility that we open ourselves to the merciful love of God, accept this love and let it into our heart. In the first letter of John it says: "Even if the heart accuses us, God is greater than our heart and he understands everything." (1 Jn 3:20) So God does not override morality. But morality is once again enveloped by its ever greater mercy. And all of a sudden we can experience that our self-esteem is not fed solely from our ability to perform, but from enjoying the merciful love of God. Father Kentenich brought this interplay of original sin and redemption into a play on words: "The break in nature becomes the break in grace."
Pope John Paul II has declared White Sunday to be the Sunday of Divine Mercy. We celebrate today. Inspired by the visions of St. Sister Faustyna and through the watchful observation of the time, in his encyclical on divine mercy, he described this quality of God as very topical and particularly necessary and therefore necessary for today's people, who repeatedly fall into the trap of overburdening themselves .
The next time you open a milk jug by pressing the predetermined breaking point, remember that you can do the same with your soul. Then the breaking point in nature can also become the breaking point of supernatural in you.
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