Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sunday Gospel Reflection, September 23, 2018: Where do the conflicts among you come from?

In other words, what passions rule your existence? 

   Human willfulness is a powerful force.  When, in the Book of Wisdom, the wicked beset the just one, it is because they themselves are not in right relationship with God – the just one knows that they are guilty of transgressions of the law and violations of their own training.  Like the speaker in Psalm 54, who knows that the Lord upholds his life, the just one loves God and lives to express that love, and so he stands in opposition to those who reject the covenant standards of mercy and gentleness and constancy that the Letter of James describes.  Reminding his audience that they need to rely upon wisdom from above rather than their own passions and parameters, James exhorts them to cultivate peace by their attention to relationship with other – rather than jealousy and ambition – and through that relationship, to cultivate their relationship with God.

   The passions of jealousy and ambition and willfulness are no strangers to Jesus’ disciples.  In Mark’s Gospel, rather than listen to the Lord, who frightens them with stories of his imminent death, they discuss among themselves who is the greatest.  Because they can’t bear to hear what Jesus says, they express instead their own insecurities and are able to access only their own limited experience and comprehension rather than opening to Jesus’ teaching.  Ultimately, Jesus can only reach them by taking a child, putting his arms around it, and saying, Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.  It is a call away from willfulness to willingness, a call to serve other.

   One of our biggest struggles as human beings is our fear of being inadequate – and that fear often drives us, causing us to do things we are not proud of.  But God’s love for us makes us capable of mercy and gentleness, capable of loving in our turn, if only we open to it.  To be in right relationship, to live according to the dictates of wisdom rather than by our own narrow perspectives, to do God’s will in Jesus’ name:  all of these bind us more profoundly to the one in whose name we serve, and in whose name we love, letting go of our own willfulness, that we might surrender, in love, to the needs of our world.

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Look through the eyes of wisdom (Tara Brach)

   Imagine you are walking in the woods and you see a small dog sitting by a tree.  As you approach it, it suddenly lunges at you, teeth bared.  You are frightened and angry. 

   But then you notice that one of its legs is caught in a trap.  Immediately your mood shifts from anger to concern:  You see that the dog’s aggression is coming from a place of vulnerability and pain.  This applies to all of us.  When we behave in hurtful ways, it is because we are caught in some kind of trap.

   The more we look through the eyes of wisdom at ourselves and one another, the more we cultivate a compassionate heart.

--Tara Brach, True Refuge

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

We are meant to accompany each other (Kerry Weber)

  We are meant to accompany each other, as Jesus accompanies us.  We carry each other.  We urge each other.  We encourage each other. 

--Kerry Weber, 
Beautiful Mercy 

Image source:  Sadao Watanabe, On the Road to Emmaus (1993),

Monday, September 17, 2018

To live in this world (Naomi Shihab Nye)

  A man crosses the street in rain, 
stepping gently, looking two times north 
and south, 
because his son is asleep on his shoulder. 
No car must splash him. 
No car drive too near to his shadow. 
This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo 
but he’s not marked. 
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE, 
His ears fill up with breathing. 
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream 
deep inside him. 
We’re not going to be able 
to live in this world 
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing 
with one another. 
The road will only be wide. 
The rain will never stop falling. 

--Naomi Shihab Nye, Shoulders