Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stones...



As I focus more on my inner life, I sometimes perceive a big wall of stone within that I have carefully built over the years to protect myself.  Now though it seems as if the Spirit living in me is removing some of the stones from my wall.  This is very scary and hurtful for me, but I keep trying, to let it happen.  As I am emptied out, I feel grateful that I can receive more people into my inner space.  There seems to be a sort of cave inside that is  gradually opening out into a safe dwelling place with God and with many others.  Instead of saying, "These stones belong to me and I do not want you  to remove them,"  you are being invited to say, "I am very afraid to let go, but because you are my Father, I trust you and with your help, I will cooperate with you."  Meanwhile, God is saying, "Le me remove your stones and blockages and learn to be grateful, because it will provide more space in your life."  Gratitude is believing that when stones are taken out of your your wall, God is building a place where you can receive others and really experience true family and true community.  A grateful life is when you give thanks, because what is happening to you politically or socially, or in your family or in your personal journey, is the molding hand of a loving Father, transforming your heart by love.  "Although it is uncomfortable at times, Lord, I want to be shaped according to your love."  (From Fear to Love-Lenten Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen)

We are entering the week we call "Holy."  We will begin to reflect more fully on the "The Mystery of our Faith," which we proclaim during each Eucharistic Celebration, Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.  This is also the mystery we have been baptized into.  This is a mystery of Jesus' suffering, death, burial, Resurrection, and Ascension being lived out in us, and through us.  Life then, is not a problem to be solved, rather it is a mystery to be lived in faith.  Faith is a gift of the Spirit which allows the soul to stay attached to its own unfolding. (T. Moore) When we allow ourselves to be drawn into the mystery of the Paschal mystery, the fruits of the Resurrection will revealed in us and through us.  We then will life and have it to the fullest, which is the Lord Jesus' wish and the purpose of His mission and ministry to, for us.  That is why he has come, so the scriptures tell us.  

 Greed and Envy transformed by God's grace turns into a life of generosity and sharing.  Again, Hildegard of Bingen warns us against the deadly presence of envy when she writes:  "Envy drives out all greening power!  When the greedy do not get what they want, they fall into a depression from which they are not lightly lifted.  The day hurries quickly by, they say, "It is always night."  If happiness should stand outside, just beyond their door, they say, "I am accursed."  Should it go well with all they undertake, still they would say, "It goes badly!"

John O'Donohue in his wonderful book, Anam Cara, has the following to say, " To the greedy eye, everything can be possessed.  Greed is one of the powerful forces in the modern Western world.  It is sad that a greedy person can never enjoy what they have, because they are always haunted by that which they do not yet possess.  This can refer to land, books, companies, ideas, money, or art.  The motor and agenda of greed is always the same.  Joy is possession, but sadly possession is ever restless, it has an inner insatiable hunger.  Greed is poignant, because it is always haunted and emptied by future possibility; it can never engage presence.  However, the more sinister aspect of greed is its ability to sedate and extinguish desire.  It destroys the natural innocence of desire, dismantles its horizons, and replaces them with a driven and atrophied possessiveness.  This greed is now poisoning the earth and impoverishing its people.  Having has become the sinister enemy of being."  What a powerful statement it is when he says "because of greed,"  we can never engage presence.   We can never enjoy what we have.  We can never enjoy where are presently.  We can never enjoy who we are.  We are so caught up in seeking out the next possession, we are lost to the present of the present moment.  We are, so caught up in the belief that we are, is  what we have, and unfortunately, who we are and what we have, is never for the ego.  It is then without God's grace,  that it is impossible for us to accept the fact that we are unconditionally loved and accepted by our Prodigal Father, as beloved daughter, as beloved son.  But for God, it is completely sufficient.  We must always be open to the development of our understanding, under God's grace of what it means to be generous, what it means to be charitable with ourselves and others.  In order for this to happen, we need an ever deepening conversion.  What it means to come to know and understand what Matthew says in his 25th Chapter.  "I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was naked and you clothed, me, I was sick and I was in prison and you visited me."  What it means to be kind and generous to the poor and broken, part of who we really are, we must apply Matthew 25 to the suffering Christ in each one of us.  In short, we must be Simon of Cyrene and Veronica to the suffering Christ we meet without ourselves on a daily basis.  

This will lead us t believe when we reach out to meet the needs of the least of the brethren, we are meeting the needs of Christ.  To fulfill this challenge, each of us will need to reach out beyond our greed to be sensitive to the needs of Christ present in the "least of the brethren."  This will enable all of us, but especially the "least of the brethren," to understand that God is a God of generosity and He will always take care of our needs, but not our greed.  Let us pray for the gift of accepting who we are and where we are presently, knowing in this our God is displaying His generous love for us.  We do not have to live of a life of envy, a life of jealousy, a life of resentment, and/or a life of unhappiness.  Our faith tells us that in His love for us, God has blessed us to the point of being an extravagant God, and a prodigal Father.  The more we come to an appreciation and acceptance of the mystery of God's reckless love for each one of us, envy can become less of a challenge for us.  We will journey beyond envy an jealousy into a people well disposed to enjoy all that life has to offer us in each and every moment of our lives.  This Holy Week, let us bring ourselves as we are to Him who knows well the workings of the human heart, the human person.  It is in the acceptance of our poverty, our humanity, that the Resurrection experience can be ours.  It is true, it is only in dying, we are brought to eternal life.  Let us enter into the heart, this mystery of our faith, to discover the mystery in our Heart. 

Jesus on the cross teaches to us that it is in failure, rejection, and nakedness, the power of our God of gentleness, compassion, and faithfulness is revealed to us.  May you have a transforming and transfiguring Holy Week as you prayerfully enter into your personal and our communal understanding of the Paschal Mystery.