Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lent…2014…A…Real…Homecoming???

There was a great, heartwarming, news story in the paper. The remains of a fallen soldier, long dead but never forgotten, was definitely identified. From present day advances in DNA technology the remains were able to be identified as…who sacrificed his life during World War II. As a result, his remains will now be buried with his relatives. He will have finally come home, after an absence of 70 years. That is one long journey. That demands a great deal of courageous waiting. After 70 years of absence, there were waiting for him his loved and dear ones. They were there to welcome home, the one who left so that their homes could remain intact, and free. We must never take freedom for granted. It must be fought for, again and again. Real freedom is not free. A price must always be paid. The greater the freedom, the greater the price. How blessed humanity has been with great prophets, both male and female, who have envisioned freedom. They were heroes/heroines not for just one people but for all of humankind. To this can be added, that challenging statement, “as long as one person remains oppressed, then we all are oppressed.” Is it now becoming more and more evident, we are not to live our lives in isolation, but in community, in oneness. God loves a loving, life giving and life affirming community. This Family, whose essence is love we name it ,The Holy Trinity.
Eternal Light, Life, and Love, inter-relate eternally and so the process of creation continues, and of necessity must continue. It is not for us to decide how, it is for us to trust, to hope and believe in the essential goodness of The Creator God. This is where prayer comes in, and especially the prayer of hope. Henri Nouwen has written the following: “For the prayer of hope, it is essential that there are no guarantee asked, no condition posed, and no proofs demanded, only that you expect everything from The other without binding Him in any way. Hope is based on the premise that The Other gives only what is good. Hope includes an openness by which you wait for The Other to make His loving promises come true, even though you may never know when, where or how this might happen.” We are not to make the mistake of thinking we must have the proper words, or expression when we pray. Henri has offered these words of consolation. “We are called (to pray) with our limited means, our stuttering words, and halting expressions. In this way we will come to know in mind and heart the unceasing prayer of God’s Spirit in us. Our many prayers are in fact confessions of our inability to pray. But they are confessions that enable to perceive the merciful presence of God.” Is it not amazing how simple all this is, and complicated humans have made it. I guess our ego needs to complicate this essential act so as to be able to look good doing something “good or great.” The irony is it is grace, love in action, that secretly conspires with life to make the impossible happen. “Of ourselves we can do,” what? Nothing!! If and when anything good happens, it is the result of the mysterious workings of grace. We will get away with the thinking that is solely the result of our efforts things happen. This smugness is going to be blown to hell and back. We will eventually be brought to the point of seeing, it is love and only a loving Higher Power, greater than us, in which this can be accomplished. We will be led to not only see, but come to believe that Love is our place of origin & destiny.
The Loving Eternal Womb is our home, our place of origin. It is also our destiny. To quote Fr.Rohr, “our deepest DNA is divine.” That reality, we must ever and always keep before us. In this way, we will live a life of freedom, not a life of fear. In living the life of being the prodigal daughter/son we will be able to lead others not by just words, but by our actions. Words can be so empty. Actions speak louder than words. We only have to “Be who you already are.” ( Merton ) To be who we already are, is to have journeyed through the desert of fear, addiction, abuse, hatred, jealousy, to the promised land where all CAN be free. To live in the Freedom of being the beloved son/daughter is a choice, we all have to make. Yes! It is an act of faith, not in our own goodness but in the goodness of our Prodigal Mother/Father. No other person can make this leap of faith for us. They can model it for us. Share their experience of it yes, but cannot do it for us. This is a leap we have to take on our own. Yes, we all get to the precipice, facing the abyss of God’s mercy, and ???
Looking back over the years of journey and ministry, I have to admit this fact. Even though this is God’s plan “A” is for us it is not always our first choice. When we do not cooperate, through self will, God has to come with plan “B”, or “C’ or “D.” I know I have run out of the whole alphabet, and am working on the numbers. I have an infinite amount of those to get through. Here I am relying on the Mercy-full Whose love Is Prodigal and the chances stored up, waiting for me, infinite. My sin-full acts are limited. God’s mercy-full is infinite. All our Prodigal Mother/Father does is present us with “mercy, upon mercy, upon mercy, upon mercy.” As Pope Francis is wont to remind us “God never tires of offering forgiveness,” we for our part must ask for the grace to never stop asking. In this way there will be a sort of homecoming for us. We will be able to journey back to the place we started from, and come to know it in a completely new light. So the returning is really “a going forward, a going beyond.” (Nouwen) There is now a newness, an excitement, that heralds a Spring Season like no other. This happens again, and again. A mysterious process ” ever ancient, ever new.”
As I make the journey to the beyond, my way is brightened with these words of wisdom: “Our temptation in Lent is to be so impressed by our sins and failings and so overwhelmed by our lack of generosity that we get stuck in a paralyzing guilt, a guilt that leads to introspection instead of directing our eyes to God, It is guilt that becomes an idol and a form of pride. But Lent is precisely the time to break down this idol and direct our attention to our loving Lord. The question is: “Are we like Judas, who was so overcome by his sin that he could not believe in God’s mercy any longer and hanged himself? Or are we like Peter who returned to his Lord with repentance and cried bitterly for his sins? This season of Lent, during which winter and spring struggle with each other for dominance, helps us in a special way to cry out for God’s mercy.” Nouwen.