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 official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

This short petition bears some of the hallmarks of a good prayer: persistence, clarity, a type of faith. What does it lack: reliance on God, His Way [which may not necessarily mean coming down]; His Will [both in this life and eternal life].

It also exemplifies the lengths to which a father will go for his children, taking a criticism and coming back for more. Protecting and caring for his child. Love of his child. He does not acknowledge the superior, grander, more inclusive love of His Heavenly Father for his son, the fact that his heavenly Father is more concerned about the man’s child than the man.

Another thing that is lacking in this prayer is thanksgiving,… thanking God always and everywhere for whatever happens. In His goodness, He wants only what is good for us, beneficial to our wellbeing, our eternal and temporal wellbeing.

I tend to get myopic and sloppy in my prayer, focusing only on things that effect me here and now, and forgetting St. Paul’s reminder: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The “this is God’s will for you” is what is, here and now, no frills, no yes or no’s, no thinking about it and deciding. Help me to accept this as God’s will for me right here, right now, in Christ Jesus.  Help me really mean: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen. Alleluia!!!

The Temptations and the Passion

While meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries this morning, it struck me that there is a definite parallel between the temptations that Jesus experienced at the beginning of his ministry and the Passion sequence.

While Jesus was tempted to turn stones into bread, at Gethsemane, he is tempted to not drink the cup that the Father has given him. The two, combined, are, of course, what he has already changed into his Body and Blood of the new Covenant and required men to eat in order to be saved. From stones to bread to His Body, a phenomenal transition of being into God. The Word that feeds us is both the Scripture and the Word, Himself, of God, by which we live. Thus, the Bread become Body is that by which we will live in Him.

His confrontation with the Chief Priest ultimately brings Him to the point that He declares Himself the Son of God, the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Father. How much more powerful an image than the mere tossing oneself from the pinnacle of the temple so that angels would save him from dashing his foot against a stone. It should be noted his reply to the Devil which was indeed appropriate for the Sanhedrin also: ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’”

Jesus third confrontation is with Pilate, symbol of the power of Rome. The Devil has offered him all the kingdoms of the world, if He would but bow down and worship the Devil. Jesus casts him out: “The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” And His rebuttal to Pilate’s inquiries about his kingship: “My kingdom does not belong to this world….You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” His are the kingdoms of the world. They are all part of the Kingdom of God which is the Kingdom of Heaven. The Devil had nothing but lies to offer Jesus, for Jesus already possessed what he offered. The Devil has been spending his time “roaming the earth and patrolling it.” God has given the devil power over the earth: “all that he has is in your power.” But not heaven, not God and not even ultimately; but the endgame is foretold: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!” Amen. Alleluia!!!

Believe in Love

“For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” Jn 3:20

Why do those who do wicked things hate light and truth and life and love? Why do they refuse to come to the light? They know that if they come to Jesus, he knows the heart of every man, woman and child, and will know their works and expose their works as evil. They retain the proclivity of our first parents who chose knowledge over life itself. They do not realize that the purpose of this “exposure” is not the exposure itself, but to elicit remorse, regret, sorrow and to encourage faith and the seeking of forgiveness and mercy…

But they do not believe in the goodness of God. If they are judgmental and without mercy, they build their god like themselves, a judge without mercy, a judge who does not love them, a judge who does not care about them, a judge who gives only what is due and nothing more. That is not Jesus who loves each and every one of them, who cares so much that He not only was willing to die for them, but actually did die for them, who gives not what they deserve but mercy and so much more.

This was the sadness which overwhelmed Jesus in the garden, that they wouldn’t accept love, caring, mercy, forgiveness and these, his lost sheep, his own loved ones who might never join Him in heaven.

May we not only believe in the Love that is Jesus but help others to come to believe in their Savior, their loved One, their merciful Brother, their Jesus.  Amen. Alleluia!!!

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”

9/14/13
Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”
How often we address these words to God…”How can these things be?” Though we do not question being born again of water and the Spirit, though we do not question those born of the Spirit being like the wind, we are apt to question everything else that happens in our lives. We do not trust God. We do not look upon the unfolding of our lives as being part of the plan of God. Instead, we look upon both the good and the “bad” that swirl around us as isolated incidents having little to do with our Sunday Eucharist. We look upon them as random happenings, without the golden thread of Providence weaving them into the fabric of the Kingdom. We look upon them as we look upon ourselves, equally foolishly, as being entirely independent, without biological and spiritual ties to every other person on this planet. Little wonder if we, to preserve the illusion of our own “freedom,” do not project the same mirage on the world about us.
It is under this guise that we have justified the exploitation of our natural resources, the contamination of our atmosphere, the deprivation of the basics of life to millions of our brothers and sisters, the hoarding of “wealth,” which in reality is nothing more than scarce commodities which are meant to be shared.
“How can these things be?” We stand in wonder, stupefied, not, ironically, at our own ignorance and idiocy, but at the natural and foreseen consequences of our own deliberate and inconsiderate, in the root meaning of that term, actions. As the phrase goes: “Duh????”
God, we have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear, brains but do not think. The Idol that we have created is not of gold or wood or brass, though these are a part of it. The Idol is in-dependence, any lack of ties to anything or anyone. We do not acknowledge our complete and utter reliance on You for every heartbeat, every feeling, every sight, every sound, every step, every bit of life we experience every moment of every hour of every day. This should not come as a complete surprise, for how can we acknowledge You who we do not see, if we do not acknowledge our dependence on, our relation with, our oneness in the unity of the human race, indeed the creation itself, from the farthest star to the infinitesimal neutrinos that whiz through our bodies millions of times a day. No, God is not his creation; our oneness with God is one sided, in a sense. We are creation and creation is us. That is how these things can be. Amen. Alleluia!!!

Get ahead of that curve?

6/23/13
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.
Day by day, day in and day out…they persevered over time. And progressed. They labored, they endured.  Help me to realize that God should not “be grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” The question, can we ever get ahead of that curve…no, and the reason is simple. In comparison with all that God has done for me, my service is not only negligible but unworthy of even mentioning. Second, when compared with my sins and offenses, it barely touches the surface…dust on the scales only. And third, I am humus, a creature, I was made to praise, reverence and serve God…this is my purpose in life and that is all-encompassing; in my delusion, I imagine that there is a scales, there is a tit-for-tat, an exchange of services. That is a sinful man’s lens, my lens of pride and false independence, not the reality which comes into focus for the humble, the contrite, the forgotten and ignored, the remnant…they, note I struggle to include myself among them, usually unsuccessfully, realize their place in the divine universe, the cosmos; they are humble and accept their role not only graciously but with thanksgiving, gratitude, joy and exuberance, with delight and eagerness, as an honor and a privilege. I pray to God for this attitude, desire this attitude, long for this attitude in my more realistic and rational moments. Bending my back to this cross, this juncture of earth and heaven, this dias upon which we all must abide, is impossible for me alone. Those who heard this said, “Then who can be saved?” And he said, “What is impossible for human beings is possible for God.” Amen. Alleluia!!!

Jesus’ humanity

Do we appreciate the fact that the Son of God, He to whom all creation owes its existence, He whom is one with the Father, this Divine Person showed us the ultimate patience and humility, first manifested in residing cooped up for 9 months as a fetus in Mary’s womb. This is love, not that we loved him first, but that he loved us, and gave himself up for us, while we were still in our sin! He loved us so much, he became one of us, taking on every lowly and tedious aspect of our existence, the process of growing, the routine of rising, working, resting, sleeping, eating and starting over again and again, taking joy in life’s highlights, the festivals in Jerusalem, the birthdays, anniversaries and weddings at home. Living through life’s sadnesses: Joseph’s death, natural and man-made tragedies, subjugation by Rome and its minions, leavings. And enduring trials: hunger, pain, sickness, poverty, privation.

For us, this is our lot, our existence, unchosen, at times unwanted. He freely, with a freedom so far surpassing our own that there is, in essence, literally, no comparison, a freedom unbounded by limitations or requirements, a freedom the limits of which are self-established by the substance of His Being, e.g. a square circle,…He freely chose finitude, frailty, finality…all the imposed attributes by which we are eternally bound and from which we eternally seek to free ourselves. Perhaps there is a lesson therein, perhaps in these seeming constraints there is goodness, blessing, beatitude. Perhaps there is the essence of becoming like little children, of humility, a grounding in who I am and loving me, embracing me, rejoicing in me. For God created me just as I am, and saw that it was “very Good.” Amen. Alleluia!!!