I am under a pomegranate from which we expected fruit more than six years ago. It was a gift from our friends Bartolomé and Inés. I wanted to cut it several times, but I thought «maybe next year». Now we have grenades like the one you see in the picture. I hope they mature and we can try them, although their current appearance does not yet invite that.
Getting closer to the scriptures is something similar. We go to them again and again hoping to find the fruits they hold. Sometimes it does and sometimes it dodges our desire. It makes us wait.
When I pruned it, I looked for the shape of an ornamental, garden tree. I left the strongest branches looking for the decided shape in my mind. This year I didn’t do it, I lost interest and it’s been when it’s bearing fruit. My excessive interest in its growth achieved nothing. When I left it then it gave me. It seems that we have begun to know each other.
I have to make an effort when I study the scriptures. I have to get rid of the outside way of thinking. Sometimes it’s hard, I don’t get it and then I can only read them. The scriptures require the same as entering the temple. And the fruit doesn’t always come when we want it to. But when it happens, you feel rich, nothing satisfies you more in the world. It’s an unparalleled achievement, they make up your personal treasure.
When we look for something ornamental in them, we don’t find it. If we want them to adopt our form or vain ambition, they evade us. When we hurry, we urge them to tell us something, they leave us with an indifferent gaze.
As with the pomegranate we can only approach and when it happens marvel and give thanks.
«The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.» (John 3:8)
«I am Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord; yea, even I am he, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world.
2 I, having accomplished and finished the will of him whose I am, even the Father, concerning me—having done this that I might subdue all things unto myself»
One form of worship is to study his words, because he chooses them from among many. Each one is an imprint of his steps, so to know them is to approach him. I will not dwell on the power and elegance of these two verses. The reader will be able to recognize it by walking in them.
Verse 1, with its five phrases resembles Jorge Manrique’s (ABCAB) verses, almost taking the form of a quiasm, where it reaffirms in its central part «yea, even I am he» Jehovah the mighty. His identity is the center of the affirmation.
Using the word Redeemer teaches us much. This word comes from the Latin redemptor. The root of the verb is redimere (to rescue, to recover something sold or pawned) The prefix red indicates us to go back in the verb emere (to take, to obtain, to buy) This word shows us someone who rescues something or someone lost by getting or buying again.
There is a particle in that important word: tor. It is an agent suffix, enhancing that executes the action of redemption. Therefore at the end of that verse 1 with the word Redeemer and not Redemption, the Savior declares that «yea, even I am he». And in His light we also see the shadow of those words: «No, there is no other.»
The executor and the chosen one
I have never seen anyone speak of themselves so naturally, but with such power and mastery of language.
In verse 2 we find all the intent of his words as he says «having accomplished and finished…» This is in harmony with the word Redeemer (tor) and its character as an agent of the redemption of the previous verse.
The reader may think that it is excessive to go to this point of detail in the reading, but later on we will see the careful choice he makes with his words. With all intention he emphasizes that it is he who carries out our redemption.
In contrast to these words of executive power then highlights the source from which comes «the will of him whose I am, even the Father,» (2) It seems as I read this that the choice made by the Father obeys two reasons: the need for a Savior, but also a personal plan, which not only defines his relationship with us as Redeemer, but also his intimacy with the Father as son.
He always speaks of his Father, he suggests to us how excellent it is to count on his friendship. To know both of them, to have their approval, their neighborhood… could be our secret desire. It could be our pomegranate cultivated in the hidden place. Just the idea of being admitted into a family circle of such quality. of having them for friends, brings us a little closer to them.
From verse 4 begins the infinite «for I, God, am endless.»
In verses 6 and 7, the Lord shows us the importance He gives to words. He speaks of punishment.
«Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment...» (6) The two consecutive denials generate some confusion. Then he declares in the 7
«Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.»
The name damnation and the adjective eternal do not need the adverbs of negation nor the preposition without precedents. He sharpens his sword, so he clarifies that «it is more express than other scriptures,» with what intention? «that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men,»
So his words not only teach, but work in the heart for the glory of his name which is the Redeemer of the world. So he gets his word «which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore, give heed unto my word.» (D&C 12:2) That is, both his semantic spirit and his grammatical body.
Up to verse 13 there is a clear intention for us to understand that He is endless. Therefore everyone who approaches or moves away from his influence must understand that the position chosen will be endless. The estates of the worlds to come are closed. There is ministry among them but no promotion or ascent.
Apparently this life determines a segment of our spiritual and physical development without possible repair or replication in the future. One’s future depends on one’s constitution rather than on one’s preference or desires. On that coming occasion, once mercy and justice are ingratiated in our case, the result will be to be endowed or not.
The Alpha and the Omega or Endless Suffering
«Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.» (15)
The study and measurement of pain considers its intensity, frequency, disability and influence on rest. By assessing these parameters, pain clinics can establish a treatment for the patient.
The gentleman in section 19 comments on some aspects of his ailment. The word sufferings comes from the Latin suffero (to suffer, to support underneath) with the suffix mentun (indicates the process in the time that expresses the verb) Therefore the Lord suffers not only a pain but its extension in time, a suffering. In verse 15 we see its characteristics
- how sore you know not
We see its extension, its mass we could say
- how exquisite you know not
The amount of pain per unit of time
- how hard to bear you know not
And here the third factor, to hold is to hold a load and its intensity, for a given time.It is almost describing a space time within the soul.
The effect of pain
Surprisingly, the description in section 19 is centuries ahead of the scientific study of pain.
Lorimer Moseley of the University of South Australia, is a pain scientist with experience in physiotherapy, neuroscience and psychophysiology. He details some of his research:
«But what is remarkable is that the problem (pain) affects the space around the body, as well as the body itself.
«The potential similarity between our findings and the space-time distortion predicted by the theory of relativity is definitely intriguing.»
«Obviously, here the external space is not distorted, but the capacity of the brain to represent that space within its neuronal circuit. This finding opens up a whole new area of research on how the brain allows us to interact with the world and how this can be interrupted in chronic pain. (Chronic pain distorts sufferers’ sense of space and time)
The arrow of time in Gethsemane
There is a psychological symmetry of space and time in our mind. The perception of space-time by our mind suffers from pain distortions similar to those produced in space-time by a mass. This novel idea helps us to glimpse the suffering of the Savior.
The sense of the arrow of time is from the past to the future, the same as the entropy of the Universe. This law of thermodynamics says that everything tends to the maximum disorder. We can observe it in our homes, no matter how hard we try, the disorder seems to come alone. A permanent effort is necessary.
However, in the atonement a way was opened so that the disorder of souls and their acts in the past and the future may, against entropy, return to an order through repentance.
There is scientifically no reason not to reverse the sense of the arrow of time. But that was done for the first time in Gethsemane; it has not yet been achieved in a laboratory.
Time and space in Gethsemane
According to Moseley, and even with our own experience, pain alters the perception of the surrounding space to the sufferer and also alters their perception of time.
The Lord at the beginning of section 19 abounds in the idea of endless. He is endless, the redeemer. He then describes the experience of suffering for someone of eternal nature. Extensive pain, intense and difficult to bear. To the point that
«…caused [he], even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.»
The suffering was permanent in all these hours, but there were spikes of pain as in Gethsemane. These are the approximate events.
- Thursday 20:00 The Last Supper
- Thursday 21:00 Prayer in Gethsemane
- Thursday 23:00 Judas kiss and arrest
Friday 01:00 At the house of Anás
- Friday 02:00 Ante Caifas
- Friday 05:00 At the Sanhedrin
- Friday 06:00 Ante Pilatos
- Friday 07:00 Sent to Herod
- Friday 08:00 Returned to Pilate, condemned and whipped
- Friday 09:00 Road to Golgotha
- Friday 12:00 Crucifixion
- Friday 15:00 Jesus expires on the cross
An external observer
In order to catalog a person’s degree of pain, an external observer is sometimes needed. In this case, Juan as an eyewitness tells us about the course of Christ’s suffering for 19 hours. When we read, we make a copy in our mind of this story. But we do not alter our space and time. Because we don’t experience that pain.
General relativity shows us that the geometry of space deforms when there is a mass. Its geometry goes from being flat to being curved. The deformation is greater the greater the mass. Likewise, time, intimately linked to space, slows down the greater the gravitation, that is, the deformation of the space produced by the mass. This is so real that the satellites of the GPS system take this relativistic effect into account.
Our mind has been created in this universe and responds in its interior in a manner similar to the place where it lives, there is an overlap between them. Hence, as inferred from Moseley, time and space are not the same for John, the observer, as for Jesus the Redeemer.
Just as we cannot understand the mystery of eternity, neither that of his pain and suffering. They are of the same nature and use the same language.
It wasn’t 19 hours.
There is an imbalance between humanity and enormous justice. A difference of potential between the two poles is strange for an orderly creation. A sudden disruption of order by human exception, before the stunned eyes of the stars. An imbalance denied to any other participant in creation.
That demand should be balanced in the inner universe of a human. Not in the language of the atoms or in the flashes of the stars or in the movements of the tormented jets of energy of the Quasar.
It would have to translate into human pain, a kind of special knowledge, capable of compensating for the justice and order that exists on the other side of the soul.
When Jesus came into contact with that dark mass that was slowly approaching, he declared: «My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death». (Matt. 26:38) Gradually that cup curved the space of his soul, until it stopped his time. Until he «desired not to have to drink the bitter cup and faint. And that he said the «…Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord; yea, even I am he, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world.»
He was moved to a place where he was never, for which he was not emotionally prepared. Only his body, inherited from his Father, kept him in a few moments. He also did not know how painful, intense, and difficult to endure his suffering would be.
It was the moment of the justice of empty spaces, of what was not and cannot be created, of eternities and their inhabitants. Alone with her and without the glory of her Father. He endured it all until he defeated entropy and time.
He pierced the mental reality and that of the cosmos. He subjected himself to untamed laws until that moment. Laws impossible to bend, he put them under his dominion. Then he began to subject to him all things.
The Good Samaritan
«A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.» (Luke 10:30)
We descend from the abode of the Father in the heavenly Jerusalem to Jericho, the Earth. Here in our fallen state, we are besieged by the adversary. Hopeless, stripped of all glory in a predatory world where we are wounded.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
He is our Savior, he cured us and carried us on his horse. He used his noble condition of divine kingship for our benefit. It is he himself who cares for us in our wounds, there is no one intervening.
Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Seneca said in his letter of consolation to Helvia «pain is omnipotent with the wretched.»
But he, dismounted from the glory he had with the Father, paid to justice for our life, not only for the past but for the future. He has the power to overcome time, space, and entropy for our sake «having accomplished and finished the will of him whose I am, even the Father, concerning me—having done this that I might subdue all things unto myself…»(3)