The last prayer I quoted last week from the Fourth Sunday in Lent, is one that has to be used often. It will aid us, help us, as we face the challenges on this oh so human journey. The human journey we are called to make as spiritual beings. We are after all aliens. Yes, this is who we are. Because of this reality, whether we like it or not, aliens have so much to teach us about who we are, and who we have been called to be. Each alien is a sacrament, for you and I. In their life's story, is our story with our God as we make our way through "this Vale of tears''. When we look closely, and examine without judgment, the life of an alien we will see a living incarnation of who we are, as individual pilgrims, and as a pilgrim people. The poverty of the alien, is really the poverty that is deep within each one of us. As we grow in reconciliation with that poverty, we will be slowly lead, to the embracing acceptance, of the presence of those who at one time, appeared as a great threat to our security. We will be able to listen with more open and accepting hearts what Jesus has to say in Matt. 25. He tells us He is the hungry one. He is the prisoner. He is the sick one. He is the one away from home. He does not provide ANY EXCUSES. He states the reality. He gives us the bare facts. These are challenging facts, which we as, The Contemporary Christ Presence, we must face up to.
There is a price to be paid when this call is answered. A great price is demanded of not a few, but so many of our sisters and brothers. Look at how many, many martyrs we have in South America, as the struggle for basic human dignity continues. I am happy/sad to say I was in one parish with Sister Dorothy Stang who was assassinated because of her great work for the poor and the oppressed. I have a picture of her dead body lying in a remote area. This is a constant reminder of the price many are prepared to pay so that the fruits of the Redemption reaches ALL not a few. There are so many who have no lived experience of what the Redemption has really brought to humanity. There is so much sacrificial work still to be done. So many martyrs still be be crowned. Many have chosen to take Sr.Dorothy's place. What courage it must take to know that at any given moment the ultimate sacrifice may be demanded of you. Talk about walking the Gospel message, and responding to it's demands. South America, has not only given the church so many martyrs, it has also gifted her with the wonder-full power of The Small Base Communities. What a dynamic presence for radical change that has been. Radical, because it charges the church at it's roots with a new enthusiasm for what is right and just. There is a wonder-full reservoir of spiritual richness available to the whole church from the experience of these people expressed in prayer. Real honest gut prayer, expressing their reality.
We have to admit we have not always been on the right side of the struggle. We were on the convenient side, where there was no danger to be faced. Then, the so called, WEAK, harnessed that eternal inner gift of hope, the result, mystifying. How could the poor, the weak, be so strong? What gave them that inner strength to fight, and not count the cost. The poor, the oppressed, are the channels, the sacraments, through which Our Gracious Father-God, continues to show His "fundamental option" still lies. As it was, so it is, and ever shall be. We all are in a struggle to liberate that which we have imprisoned, that which we have alienated, into the freedom that is ours as the beloved of our heavenly Father. As we are, so all those we see have the self same dignity. As we embrace all the we are, so we will find we will be able to embrace the many, many, disguises Our God comes to us in. He does not come, and never did, in trite answers. We, now more than ever must pray that we do not worship the convenient god of complacency. We must shudder when we think, smugly, we have all the answers. Look at those who crucified the Prophet Jesus. They thought they had all the answers, and were doing right in the taking of His life. How many lives have been taken, in many and various ways, by those who think they have they have all the truth they need, yet fail miserable to see the Real presence of God in the reality that is right before their eyes. How true is that old saying; "There are none so blind as those who WILL not see". Fear keeps them from the TRUE Presence of the living God in the lives of those who they are sitting in judgment of, and condemning. How easy it is to rash judge and condemn, rather than see the person as God's see them. Not the narrow god of our limited understanding, but the infinite loving and compassionate God of Jesus Christ. Without understanding there can be no real acceptance, and reconciliation . That is so very true for ourselves first, then it flows out to those who are placed in our daily lives. There are going to be some real eye-popping surprises in heaven, when it will be revealed to us who really is “THE APPLE OF GOD'S EYE".
I will finish up, no comments please, with a verse from an old Gaelic hymn:
Your eyes are watchful,
Your ears are listening,
Your lips are speaking,
Friend at my side."
Prayer can be seen as that gentle, misty rain that falls so gentle at times. In Ireland, when that happens, we call it "a soft day", and there are many of them. So then let us allow our prayer to bring about a gradual softening of the hardness with which we so often treat ourselves with. Then what was promised, through the prophet Ezekiel will become a reality for you and I. Through the prophet, our God promises that he will remove from us our hearts of stone. The heart that is critical, unyielding, judgmental, and so very inhuman. He, and only He alone, can replace the former, and in it's place we will be given hearts of flesh. We will be given the human heart. The heart that Jesus Christ modeled, and revealed to us through His life, and especially His death. This Heart of Christ, who will lead us to a life tat will be lived out lived in love, peace, freedom, and joy. Happiness, MAY happen, but it is not the goal. Happens can only happen, it cannot be made to happen. It cannot be bought or manufactured in some way. we are powerless to make happiness happen. It is a by-product of the life that is lived in the knowledge, you are the beloved. That is what has to be claimed," again and again." (Nouwen) May the gentle rain of Our Gracious God descend on the Field/garden of your souls. Then may the harvest that comes to you, be embraced, and accepted, giving you what you need , not what you want.