Meditation on Lk 6:22-23; Hatred and Exclusion

Would that I were comfortable with people hating me; it is not something for which I crave, even with your description of the reward as great. Note that it must be “on account of the Son of Man.” While ” Son of Man” is often used by you to describe yourself, I wonder whether, at least in this instance, it is not your intention to identify yourself with all who are hated for no reason, for the color of their skin, for the ethnic heritage, for their religious beliefs, for their culture, mannerisms, smell, location, wealth, poverty, illness, health, job, unemployment, etc., etc., etc., for the millions of different things we use to differentiate “us” from “them.” It is not a “nice feeling” to be hated; it is terrifying, frightening, isolating. One becomes desperate, discouraged, defiant. Yet you tell us to rejoice, indeed to leap for joy. Both counterintuitive and countercultural. It reminds one, indeed of a leap of faith into your arms, the unknown and unseen but omnipresent hands of safety and comfort.

Now hating arises from animosity, which, from its original meaning of boldness and vigor has taken on the connotation as well as the modern denotation of “in opposition to.” While this type of hatred seems to include some thought, i.e. “anima” meaning rational life, mind, much hatred actually arises from ignorance, from lack of knowledge of the other, lack of understanding, lack of empathy and sympathy, a lack of consciousness of them…which shares a common root with “conscience,” to know thoroughly. The ancient Native American saying concerning not really knowing another until you have walked in their moccasins bears revisiting. If, before we rushed to judgment, we forced ourselves to completely and empathetically understand the other from their point of view, I suggest that we would be much more reticent to pass any judgment on that fellow human being.

Exclusion is something of a different matter, at least to me. I fear, loath, am extremely uncomfortable with exclusion. I equate exclusion, to be shut out, with unimportance, invisibility, the lack of knowledge of who I am…since, at present, I define myself by what others say, think and act toward me. Indeed, I revert to the identification method of an infant or child, knowing myself by excluding others from my self image, self boundaries; in opposition to others I define myself. A love-hate relationship is the only relationship that can come of such a defining process: I must love and tolerate others to know who I am, but in that very necessity, I scorn both them and me, them for allowing me to do so and for being ignorant that I am using them thus, and me for need such a crutch, such an unreliable outside source to know where I stand. Severing such ties is both scary and freeing; scary for it is the only modus operandi with which I am comfortable, which which I have been adequately, if not independently and well, for nie on 69 years; freeing for I would no longer have to rely on pleasing others and thus could devote myself to pleasing you, God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Rather than attempting unsuccessfully to rely on others for my strength of character, of self, I would and could rely on you to identify me, to name me, to give me character, to enlighten me, to be my strength in time of need.

Help me make this transition from clinging to my delusions to creating in, through and with You, from relying on others to redemption, to enabling and welcoming yourself in me so that I may indeed be bought back from the slavery to a false and marred image of self, brought back from the edge of self-destruction, to a new life in you, in your company, in your service.

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Meditation on “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied.”Lk 6:21.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied.”Lk 6:21. Perhaps this should be seen in the perspective of its opposite, 4 verses later: “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.” Lk 6:25  While one’s initial reaction is to identify this as physical hunger, particularly immediately following the poor-rich contrast and Luke’s propensity for the poor and his emphasis on the temporal works of mercy as seen especially in Acts, such an interpretation should be seen (a) in light of the multiplication of the loaves which, it is pointed out by Mark that even his Apostles did not comprehend:  “for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” Mk 6:52. [See also Mt 16: 5-12] It is obvious that God can physically feed us all. But (b) in light of Mt 5:6, where hunger is for righteousness or justice, this must also be interpreted in a allegorical forum, pointing to both the presence of the Kingdom as well as the sacrificing by Christ of his own body and blood for our saving food which will abundantly satisfy our spiritual hunger.  In the moral interpretation, such hunger is, perhaps, best interpreted as being for justice, both in ourselves, but especially for all others, particularly the poor.  The anagogical or eschatological view is that, here on earth, all our hungers, physical, spiritual and moral, will not be fully satisfied.  It is only in heaven that truly “you shall be satisfied.”

Great Daily Examen site

http://www.examen.me/examen-me_125x125 copy

I strongly recommend this site.  Based on the Daily Examen of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, It offers a variety of types of examen, including Old and New Testament, Psalms, Regular, etc. following the format of the Exercises: Presence, Praise, Process, Penance, Promise.  It also has different reading programs from a week to a year long.  Very gentle, very non-intrusive, user-friendly.

The Miracles We Miss

“We have seen incredible things today.” Lk 5:26  Following close on the heels of the previous post, this short, but pithy, quote intrudes our complacency.  I say, “intrudes” because, if we reflect on its wider context, we would not be so blithe, so complacent, so blase, so entirely unaffected, in viewing the world around us.  Indeed, we, too, should experience what the witnesses to the cure of the paralytic felt: “Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe…”  From the moment of our conception to the second of our death, we are surrounded by God’s miracles.  We are, in fact, partakers, participants, indeed, like the paralytic, recipients of those miracles.  Every breath we breathe is a miracle.  Every snowflake that falls is a miracle.  Every atom that pulses in the things around us is a miracle of God’s goodness and genius.  This is the basis of Paul’s extraordinary statement: In all circumstances give thanks, and he points out this very reason, the bounty of God’s mercy which envelops us: for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes 5:18.

Amen!  Alleluia!!!

Trick Question?

Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? Lk 5: 23. 

Jesus may have said this with a smile, for it is a trick question.  Neither are “easy to say.”  Both are beyond the reach of normal men. We cannot forgive sin; sin is always against God and, in this, the scribes and Pharisees are right: “Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Luke 5:21  Nor can we say to a paralytic, “Rise and walk.”  Such power of miracles is beyond man and again resides with God alone. Therefore, the allegation of the Pharisees is, in one sense, correct; Jesus, if He is not God, has blasphemed.  And this is the very point of Jesus’ question: Am I or am I not God?  Am I who I say I am?  Am I who I claim to be?

We need a logical conclusion…”But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” Lk 5: 24

And we get it, tied up with a bow and handed to us on a golden platter: “He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God.” Lk 5:25

Amen!  Alleluia!