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

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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!!!

Imitating the Hidden Life of Jesus

We mostly think about imitating the active life of Jesus. Yet, for the most part, our lives are an imitation of the hidden life of Jesus, the hours in the workshop, the meals with the family, the Sabbaths at the Synagogue, the pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the High Holy Days, in family birthdays, weddings and funerals, in shop talk and play, in laughing and crying. This comforts me in that I realize He obeyed and served God just like I do, not just in the public life, but also and for most of his life in everyday existence.