Thursday, November 22, 2012
Last week, I ended with facing the challenge that flows from our encounter with "the living person of Christ". On further reflection, this is where hiking comes in, it came to me that I left out a few very important words. It would have been more real, more true, if I had written "an encounter with the living person of the historical Jesus, Who became the Christ of God”. It has been many years since I was introduced to the following challenging reality. In so far as I have a healthy, spiritual understanding of the historical Jesus, will I be able to encounter the real, risen Christ. It is the historical Jesus having passed through His, suffering, death, burial and resurrection, who became, and is The Christ of God. Jesus, before He became the Christ, asked His disciples this question, "Who do you say that I am?". We, as the living disciples, have to answer that question as well. There is no getting around it. How we answer will have such a profound effect on our own lives, and as a consequence, the lives of so many more. This Jesus of history is, The Sacrament of God. He is the fullness of the revelation of The Eternal, The Infinite and The Ineffable One. Within His humanity and as consequence within our humanity as well, is both hidden and revealed the human qualities of The Transcendent God. From our study of The Gospels we will come to know the person whose life was spent, walking, talking, crying, being angry, scared, laughing and feasting. What a wonder-full face of God is revealed to us in the real life of the God made human. To add to His authenticity as a human being, He endured trial, failure, betrayal, abandonment, crucifixion and ultimately, like all us humans death. Yet, in and through, all these events He was The Beloved, just are we are. We will gradually grow in our understanding of the human qualities of our Father God through our ever-deepening knowledge of the Jesus of History. Remember His words to Thomas, "If you have seen me, you have seen The Father”. These qualities are essential for healthy and freeing, living out of the relationship that is ours with our Father God. There is so much unnecessary fear and anxiety when it comes to the relationship that exists between God and Human creation. A fear that is so often based on ignorance, not on the true reality. In order to allay our fears we are invited to enter, ever new, into the mystery off The Incarnation. That is the mystery of the enfleshing of God. When we choose not to enter the mystery of God entering the human condition there are serious consequences. As a result, we will always be settling for less than what our God has intended us to have. We will just eek out an existence, rather than live life and live it to the fullest. We are cheating. We are cheating ourselves, our God and all of His creation. I am not allowing my full potential to be realized. When that happens, I will a life of deep frustration and blame God for that which is. The longer I am around, the more I realize so much of what is said and taught about God is pure heresy. It is false, but it fits into someone's narrow thinking of who they are and as a consequence who their god is. We are always warned not to make God in our image and likeness. The reality is, we are made according to God's image and likeness. Big difference??? There is a whale of a difference between those two realities. As a consequence, so many live a life that God in no way intended any person to live. Yet, that life is embraced so often as "God's will", when indeed it is the very opposite. The sicker our thinking is the more outlandish is the false god that we create. There are so many idols being worshiped leading to a growing skepticism when it comes to religion. I have listened to so many stories spoken by those who have real trouble with God and religion. They open up about the god they do not believe in.. I do not know how many times I have said, "I do not believe in that god either", much to their amazement. Why do I agree? Well there are so many idols that need to be destroyed. This destruction is not a simple process. It demands great effort fortified with great grace. There is great fear in letting go of the familiar, no matter how destructive it is. No one that I know has found it easy to let go of old ideas. Especially when it comes to God and religion. We want certainty not uncertainty. In doing so, we are rejecting the possibility of having a real life of faith. A life that is full of highs and lows, success and failure, joys and sorrows, deaths and rebirths. All these were found in their fullness, in the life of the Jesus of History. He saw what was happening within His faith, and His society. He had to challenge the leaders of His faith. He confronted those in charge of the laws, teachings, and traditions with a new reality. Rather than accept this new truth, they conspired, with the secular powers, to destroy Him. Looking through the lenses of one reality they were successful. Their success in bringing about His so called destruction, only unleashed upon all of creation a new way of seeing, leading to a new way of being. In the death of the Jesus of history, the Christ of faith found life. So that He who was like unto us in all things except sin, has become the source of strength for us, sinners. He, because of His great loss, is now our Way, our Truth, our Life. We face the constant, daily struggle to reflect in our broken, and, as yet, not fully redeemed, humanity the fullness of His humanity. The more often we encounter The Risen Christ in the ritual sacraments the more we are becoming His contemporary reality and so we are fulfilling our unique destiny. This week, I propose the following imperative of Anthony Padavano, and this challenge still rings true for us today, "We must make Jesus human, and make ourselves as human as He was."( Dawn Without Darkness )
Saturday, November 10, 2012
In the last post, I referenced the Pope's resent letter in which he spoke about "the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ". What we are being asked to do, is to become more aware of who we are by our Baptism. In This Sacrament of Initiation, we are anointed by the oil of chrism so as to become sharers in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. That same anointing also consecrates us, calls us forth, to be the ones who are to continue Prophetic Mission of same Jesus Christ. We are called to be, as He was, fearless prophets. We are to be prophets, messengers of hope. We are a resurrection people, are we not? As such, we are all, by our consecration, called to spear words of encouragement to a world that has lost sight of its original blessing. God saw all that He had made and indeed it was very good. That essential goodness was not lost in the fall. Humankind lost something in the fall. The essential goodness of all of the rest of creation was in no way diminished. As it was before the fall, so it was after the fall. Humankind was changed. Nature was not. Fallen humankind lost its vision of real truth. As a consequence, all the rest of creation was, and is, to the present day, in grave danger. All of creation is in danger of being destroyed by those who have lost sight of that which has real and lasting value. We are being called and challenged to look beyond what is seen, to the life that is unseen. We are asked to let go of the certainties, so as to embrace the challenge that is inherent in the new, as yet, unanswered questions. We are never alone on this real journey of faith. The Holy Spirit, the same Spirit Who hovered over the original chaos is with us, and will never desert us. We may, and do question the workings of the Spirit. This is healthy, and good. Prophets do not pay lip service. They question, because they really care. The truth has nothing to fear from questions. The truth is always the truth, and a sacrament of, The Truth, God. Jesus The Christ was sent to us as The Truth. The fullness of the revelation of God. That is why the Pope encourages us to encounter Christ. I may be so bold as to add the encounter is to be with the living Person Of Jesus Christ. You can only have an encounter with that which is alive. In the '60s there was a book called "Good old plastic Jesus”. I kept it close for many years until it fell apart. “Plastic” Jesus, it was pointed, was and is, a thing. We used to see him on the dashboards of cars, not the place for an encounter. An encounter is not just meeting a person. It demands more than a passing conversation. An encounter demands of us time, presence, attention, respect, honesty, mutual trust, leading to shared feelings. Implicit in the encounter is the willingness to continue the relationship even through the storms that will inevitably occur. Storms are part and parcel of every real relationship. Storms, challenges reveal to each of us, who we really are. At times we are not ready of the truth. Life is so much easier when we are in denial. Denial lasts for so long. Eventually we are forced to face our truth. The truth will set us free…..but first, it will tee off the ego, the false self. The result is out and out war. Our greatest ally is truth. From our experience, with encounters we will have what it takes to get gut honest with The Source of all strengths and healing. We will be led to a different, and deeper understanding, of the seven ritual sacraments. They are Sacraments spelled with a big "S". I like to think a Ritual Sacrament as :the opportunity to encounter the living person of Jesus Christ, the result of which change takes place in my life and that change is brought about by the power of The Holy Spirit. The result of each encounter is change. NOT the change we want, or we think is best for us. The Holy Spirit will transfigured and transform into the creation God intended us to be, not who we would like to be, or the person we think we should be, or ought to be. Being who God has created us to be is the source of real and lasting happiness. It will be the cause of great disquiet in our lives. In these tough times, we are to make an act of faith in the Real Presence of our Good Shepherd God. The valley of darkness lasts for only so long. We journey through the valley of questioning and rejection guided by the light of inner and lasting truth. This truth is slowly revealed. The beauty of this inner truth is revealed again, and again, in each mountain top, resurrection experience. With each encounter, we will be challenged to reflect, through a new set of lenses, who the living person of Jesus Christ really is. This will lead to what?