Be still, and know that I am God. Ps 46:11

A very relaxing and enlightening meditation is to take this small sentence and start with the first word and meditate on it until you and God are finished and then move on to the first two words and do the same thing and so on….try it.

Be…..

Be still….

Be still and….

Be still and know….

Be still and know that….

Be still and know that I….

Be still and know that I am….

Be still and know that I am God!….

And don’t skip over the “Be still and…” and “Be still and know that…”  Let these questions hang in the air and talk about the unknown, the future and the present with God.

Peace and Prayers!

MEDITATION ON THE ASCENSION: WHY CAN’T YOU STAY? …a repeat

WHY CAN’T YOU STAY?

I don’t know about you, but I often wish that Jesus was still among us, that he had not ascended,  and that I could see Him and talk to Him.  It would simplify a lot of things: He would be here to explain exactly what He meant about this or that, He could, if he wished, solve world crises, He could, if He wished, cure all sickness, eliminate all violence, and bring heavenly peace to the world…

That’s not the way it happened however.  After His Resurrection, He appeared to various people and groups, and, as Paul points out, even when He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once [1Cor 15:6], it was always “at one time.” His appearances were temporal, i.e. within time and space, one at a time, as Paul again testified: after that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. I am not saying that He could not, had He wished, bi- or multi-located simultaneously, but to validate His true human Resurrection in a single human body, He demonstrated his presence by enjoying fish with His apostles at least twice [Lk 24:43; Jn 21:15] and by showing his disciples his hands and his feet [Lk 24:39-40] and by having Thomas put his finger in the holes in his hand and his hand in the hole in his side [Jn 20:27],and by appearing in only one place at one time.

But then I begin thinking about it and that wouldn’t have been such a good idea.  Why didn’t He remain on earth, which He could have done, I was consider what that would have meant.  It certainly would have had a negative impact: (a) if He continued His single place at a single time, He would either have had to stay in one place, in which case, the world would be on pilgrimage to Him, the place would have been totally mobbed, and no matter how many Trinitron huge screens they set up, it would not have been enough; (b) if he did appear from place to place, he would have, perforce, been distanced from at least most of His followers all the time, especially those who were too poor to make the trip, but these were the very people with whom He identified; (c) He would be able to show the common touch to each “lucky” soul only every once in a while, having to make the entire circuit of the world; meanwhile the rest of humanity longed for his comforting; (d) while, because of His resurrected status, He himself would be immune from assassins, the ire of his opponents would have been turned on His followers even more ferociously than has happened.   And I am not even taking into consideration the historical, political and social ramifications, all of which would have been significantly impacted by His presence and periodic appearances.

The spiritual ramifications would have been even more devastating.  The value of the Eucharist, His Divine and human presence in our midst, would have been undermined… “if we can see him in person, isn’t that better than His Body and Blood in transformed Bread and Wine?” The only sacred place on earth would be where He was at that particular time.  Reconciliations through priests would be considered at least second rate in comparison with a one-on-one with Jesus.  How could 1 billion people share a meal…we couldn’t even get to the same place, the same table, at the same time.  Would He have had to devote Himself to “running” the Church…and, if He continually sent out new disciples to minister to His people, they would have been considered inferior to seeing “The God/Man” in person.  Contemplation would loose its efficacy; it would be considered much better to be physically in His presence.  In essence, His whole emphasis on the worship of the Father through Him would have given way to the misplaced human idolatry of Him by the paparazzi on earth, with little or no thought to the inevitability of the eschatological heavenly Kingdom, let alone the innate purpose here on earth of each to praise, reverence and serve God, loving Him with our whole heart, our whole mind, all our strength and all our soul.

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Lenten Resolution: Don’t take myself too seriously!!! ;->

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.(Gal 6:3)[1]

“Paul uses the word sarx [flesh] to talk about the separate self, the partial self, the entrapped self, the false self. It’s the self that is trying to define itself apart from the Spirit, apart from the Big Self. It’s you apart from God, the tiny self that you think you are, who takes yourself far too seriously and who is always needy and wanting something else. It’s the self that is characterized by scarcity and fragility–and well it should be, because it’s illusory and passing. This small self doesn’t really exist in God’s eyes as anything substantial or real…To easily get beyond this confusion, just substitute the word ego every time you hear Paul use the word flesh….The problem is not that you have a body; the problem is that you think you are separate from others. And then that fragile separate self tries to make itself superior besides.” [2]

I guess one thing I “learned” [in quotes because I just realized it as a result of reading the Pope’s Easter message and haven’t really groked it yet, haven’t ruminated over it a few thousand times, haven’t absorbed it, taken it “to heart,” made it part of my modus operandi…but, with God’s help and Jesus guidance and the Spirit’s power, I may just bring it off], what I “learned” from Lent is not to take myself too seriously…. ;-<…something I tend to do all too frequently!!!

Why? Well, a number of reasons…but the big one, the most important one, is….it’s not about me [horrors!!]…it’s about Him [Shucks!!!] That’s a tough one to swallow |:~O [Gulp!] You mean I am not the center of the universe? That the world does not revolve around me? You mean I shouldn’t trust in myself more than I trust in God? You mean I can’t control everything around me and make it do my bidding? Nope! [And, thank God, literally, for that bit of reality…do you realize how really screwed up things would be if I were in charge…the world would be in really, really, really bad shape…at least this way, You’re running the show!]

Another is that no one else takes me seriously….at least not as seriously as I take myself. So it is kind of a futile solipsism for me to take myself more seriously than others do. It throws my whole “calculations” of importance and “why he didn’t get back to me…immediately!” and “where is that package…don’t they know I’m waiting for it?” out the psychological window. Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am,” is really “I think I think but I am not who I think I am and that others know that I am not,” if I take myself too seriously. Taking myself seriously is a joke…the cold reality of me is quite a laughable sight.

Finally, and seriously, most important, God doesn’t take me too seriously. That may seem blasphemy when we are told time and time again how He loves even every little hair on my head. But when we truly love somebody, we cut them a lot of slack, we laugh off their foibles, in fact, in a way, we find those shortcomings endearing…we say: “that’s just him, that’s just her…don’t worry about it.” This slack-cutting seems to be the modus operandi of my best friend, our best friend, God.

This is not to say that my sin is something that He just sweeps under the rug; no:

  • You are not a god who delights in evil.[Ps. 5:5];
  • Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows,[Gal 6:7];
  • if one does not repent, God sharpens his sword,[Ps 7:13];
  • all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left…‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. [Mt 25:32-33;45-46]

But let’s look at the evidence of God’s mercy and friendship, starting with His own description of Himself as He passes by Moses:

  • The LORD, the LORD, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and fidelity, continuing his love for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin;[3] [Ex 34:6-7; cf. Num 14:18; Ps 145:8]
  • Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in mercy. He will not always accuse, and nurses no lasting anger; He has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our wrongs deserve. For as the heavens tower over the earth, so his mercy towers over those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us. [Ps 103:8-12]
  • It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses; your sins I remember no more. (Is 43:25)
  • He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. (Micah 7:18)
  • For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. (Jer 31:34)

And note that these quotations are all from the Old Testament, where we thought God was all fire, brimstone and wrath. God wants us to know that He knows our sins and yet forgives them.

Jesus and Abba and HS [the Holy Spirit] all operate on the same type of friendship, of love. They are in love; They are love. And Love is patient, love is kindis not pompous, it is not inflated,… it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Indeed, we are given the example of Jesus: When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. (1Pet 2:23) And we are told to do the same: Judge not, that you be not judged. (Mt 7:1)…to practice love which is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,… does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. [1Cor 13:5-6] Peter asks: “Lord, how often am I to forgive my brother when he sins against me? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22) Forgiveness includes not brooding, not reviling, not threatening, not judging. Indeed, this love we should practice imitates God: it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [1Cor 13:7]

Paul also urges us, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:2-3) and James tells us: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. (James 1:19)

One form of not taking myself too seriously is the ascetic Christian life, particularly in the Eastern Church, called foolishness for the sake of Christ. It is based on the theme of foolishness in First Corinthians.

  • If any one among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, 1Cor 3:18-19:
  • We are fools on Christ’s account, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are held in honor, but we in disrepute, 1Cor 4:10;
  • The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1Cor 1:18:
  • For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. 1Cor 1:21
  • We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 1Cor 1:23
  • For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1Cor 1:25

More than ever the Lord needs a few fools to risk ridicule and hatred to proclaim his gospel to a hostile world that often thinks it is a foolish doctrine that is hopelessly out of touch with today’s reality. For fools like me and you, we can turn that belief on its head and know that, in truth, today’s reality is out of touch with God, but, due to His unconditional Love, definitely not hopelessly…after all, we’re hear and here…chortle. Amen.

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.”

[2] R. Rohr, OFM, Paul’s Dialectical Teaching: Flesh and Spirit; Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Friday, April 10, 2015, Center for Action and Contemplation

[3] We sometimes confuse forgiveness with guiltlessness. God doesn’t; this verse continues: yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but bringing punishment for their parents’ wickedness on children and children’s children to the third and fourth generation![Ex 34:7; see also Ex 20:5-6; Deut 5:9-10; Jer 32:18; this version of God’s wrath on children is obliquely referenced in Jn 9:1-3 where His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. The NABRE note on Jn 5:14 makes the point: “While the cure of the paralytic in Mk 2:1–12 is associated with the forgiveness of sins, Jesus never drew a one-to-one connection between sin and suffering (cf. Jn 9:3; Lk 12:1–5).”

This condemnation of the children is reversed in other verses; as the NABRE note on Ex 20:5 states: “Other Old Testament texts repudiate the idea of punishment devolving on later generations: Parents shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their parents; only for one’s own crime shall a person be put to death.[Deut 24:16; quoted in 2Kgs 14:6, 2 Chron 25:4; and is the basis for Jer 31:29-30 and especially Ez 18:2-4;19-20]. “Yet it is known that later generations may suffer the punishing effects of sins of earlier generations, but not the guilt.”

While God forgives our sins, our guilt remains as does the effects of sins. This must be rectified, the scale of justice balanced, either here or in eternity, the basis for the purging of Purgatory.

Some days I love my life. But other days……….I need God’s help.

Some days I love my life. But other days……….I need God’s help..

Ain’t this the truth!  Most of the days…one way or another, I am in the latter camp.  Thank God He’s around to make sure every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.[Is 40:3–5; Lk 3:4–6] 

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Jn 6:24

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. [1]

Three elements: Jesus, hearing his word, and believing in the Father.  While Jesus continually identifies Himself with the Father, [Jn 10:30; 14:8; 17:21] He always defers to the Father.  It is the Father in whom we must believe.  It is the Father whose words He speaks: I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.[Jn 12:49]

And the promise is two-fold: A person who hears Jesus and believes (a) has eternal life and (b) avoids condemnation but passes directly from death to life, passing Go(d) and collecting eternal rewards.

Is this an example of the Hebraic poetic pension for repetition of the same thought in different words or is there something more here?  Even the Psalmic repetitions throw light on one another.

Eternal life is evidenced by coming, hearing and believing; these constitute eternal life.  These acts are the recognition and acceptance of repentance and salvation, the “be it done unto me according to Your word…not my will but Yours be done.” [Lk 1:38; 22:42]

Condemnation, on the other hand, is the result of recognition and rejection of repentance and salvation.  It is the result of a conscious, a “known with” full awareness, act of the will.  It is not an imposition of an external judgment, but the inevitable result of an internal decision.  We condemn, we act “with harm” against, ourselves.

By the conscious act of choosing to hear and believe, the condemnation which we had incurred through the choice, the willed act, of our first parents, and which we had continued to choose in each sin we committed, by rejecting those decisions, i.e. repenting, “being sorry again,” Jesus looks around and asks Has no one condemned you including yourself? Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.” [Jn 8:10-11] We dodged the bullet, we were dead and now live; we have resurrected…mini-wise in anticipation of the general resurrection, we have passed from death to life.  Amen.  Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Yes and the Naked Now

What is the secret to knowing God’s will?  It ultimately is extremely simple.  Whether it is extremely hard or not to live depends on me.

We start with the Naked Now.  God’s will for me is not in the past nor in the future.  The past is finished and in His Hands.  Nor has He revealed the future; it does not effect us right here and right now.  Thus, we are left with the revelation of His will, moment by precious moment.  We are asked to accept as from a Master, welcome as from a Lover, trust as from a Father, this moment, this Now as His will for me.  What is past is past.  What will be is not mine to see.  What Jesus is asking me is to follow Him right here, right now, unconditionally.

Unconditionally is part of Now’s nakedness.  No strings attached.  Nor is Now laden with any intention, any purpose, any reason other than Love; no innuendos, no hidden agendas, no trappings of any kind: that is its Nakedness.

It is not evil, it is the goodness of Creation God declared from the beginning, presenting itself to me.  I may not perceive it as good; cancer, illness, being fired, violence, even death, examined in the light of the naked now, are simply challenges for which God has given me grace to “choose life,” choose to Trust Him, choose to get out of the boat and walk through the storm to Him.

To do His will, in this moment, in this instance, in this choice…and the choice is mine, it is mine to receive or reject, to embrace or revile, to trust as God’s will or to attempt to control and change.

I may not understand the choice, I may not grok its implications for the future; God asks me to Trust Him.  On the other hand, I may completely understand the implications, I may, like the witnesses to our faith, be asked to make a choice for or against God, even if that means derision, scorn, suffering or ultimately death.  While we look at the second type of choice as a “defining moment” in life, in a sense, each moment leading up to that moment is a “defining moment.”  The second may be the moment of crystallization, but the other moments are the formulation of the solution, the imminent concentration, until at the fullness of time, a precipitating moment arrives, the choice is made and the rest is history.

Unfortunately, the solution can be contaminated or even completely corrupt and the precipitating moment either never takes place or it may crystallize for evil, not good.  It is in such a defining moment that the Holy Spirit is sinned against; one completely shuts Him out and he can no longer dilute the mixture with the grace of repentance.  God cannot forgive that for which one does not repent.  Though He still loves us “savagely,” with over-the-top type Love,  He regards our freedom of will too highly to impose what is not desired,…and for this reason He is in the anguish of the Garden when a sinner refuses redemption and heaven is in ecstasy for every sinner that repents.

What is the “Yes,” it is the echo of Mary’s Behold the handmaid of the Lord.   Be it done to me according to Your will,[Lk 1:38] and her Do whatever He tells you.[Jn 2:5] It is Dag Hammarskjöld’s For all that has been — Thanks. For all that shall be — Yes.[Musings]

How else can we make sense of Paul’s constant refrain: Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you [1 Thess. 5: 16-18].[1] Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. [Phil. 4:4] Each moment I can rejoice for You are with me and we are getting closer to Your coming and I know that whatever moment I am in, You are there loving and caring for me.  For this I can rejoice always!

Paul explains the Naked Now in Philippians, Chapter 4:

  • 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  Peeking through the moment of the Naked Now and saying “Yes” is not only reasonable, but blessed.
  • The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  You are indeed at hand, each and every naked now; all I need to do is ask and not be anxious; You are there caring for me.
  • 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. This is the peace of God that passes all understanding, knowing and trusting that You are with me every moment of every day, and this peace will guard my heart and mind from fear, from illusion, from anxiety, from distress because I am in You, Jesus, my Christ.
  • 11 I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content….13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me and thus it is, by saying Yes in the Naked Now, that I am content and can do all things through You who strengthen me.

An Error in Time

Temptations are generated outside of the Naked Now and are judged and acted upon in the Naked Now.   The Devil uses both the past and future as sources for temptations.  The future is a gold-mine, literally, for avarice, lust, envy, pride, power while the past has both pride, lust, etc as well as the after-effects of sin: anger, denial, distrust, despondency, and despair. Thus, we prepare for sin by contemplating in the Naked Now not what is but what might be or what was.  If we can look at what is straight on, we see it in a different light, not the fire-light of passion, the spot-light of pride or despair, the golden-glow of avarice, the fire-works of power, but in the Son-light of reality.  We are still free to choose against what we see as Truth and Goodness, but we are not forced to do so.

The paradigmatic example of this is the temptation of Eve in the garden.  The serpent held out to Eve the future of being like God; thus the apple was not seen as a forbidden thing, but as an obstacle; the act not an evil act, but as a means to a “good” end. The moment before she ate the apple, she considered the devil’s temptations placed up against the loving directive of the Father who walked with them in the Garden, the nakedness of the comparison and the deliberateness of the choice was what gave this the title of Original Sin, original because it was the first, and also because all others thereafter were copies of it.

Fortunately, God takes into consideration our frailty and fallen natures.  He reads our souls and knows that we are subject to multiple mitigating conditions and circumstances.  Only He can judge our ability to make a weighed and rational decision, a grace-prompted choice.  For this, we thank Him and beg his continual mercy on us, sinners.


[1] See also 2 Cor. 13:11, Phil 2:18, 3:1; echoing the Psalms, Wisdom Literature and Prophets

The Parabola of Faith: the Hand of God

As banishment from Eden preceded the incarnation, as the annunciation preceded the birth, as three days preceded the Finding, as the passion and death preceded the Resurrection, sorrow precedes joy. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. Jn 16:22

Sorrow is manifestation of the hand of God, “my father’s business.” Lk 2:49  Joy in the midst of sorrow is the realization of the hand of God.  Faith grasps the hand of God in the darkness of sorrow and gives birth to joy.

Faith is the belief in the goodness of God regardless of the circumstances; faith is solidified and strengthened by the challenges of bad or even evil things being faced and, with God’s help as savior, overcome.  Amen. Alleluia!!!