Friday, February 22, 2013

Respect God: Lenten Midweek Missal (1)

 When the crowds grew, Jesus said, “This generation is an evil generation. It looks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except Jonah’s sign. Just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Human One will be a sign to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from a distant land to hear Solomon’s wisdom. And look, someone greater than Solomon is here. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they changed their hearts and lives in response to Jonah’s preaching—and one greater than Jonah is here." Luke 11: 29-32 (CEB)

The true miracle- the opening of blind eyes
Eric Fromm, in The Art of Loving, noted that one of the main components of loving another person is respect. The Latin root means "to look at," he maintained. This is a good way to frame one of the harsher sayings of Jesus. 

Notice that in describing his current generation as evil, Jesus does so by comparing it to infamous non-Jews  like the Ninevites (who repented) and the Queen of Sheba (who traveled far seeking wisdom). 

We can all too easily end up disregarding and disrespecting the gifts and opportunities that are right in front of us.  How does this happen? Though adaptation is apart of survival, the animal brain's tendency to adjust to the good means that we, by nature,  become blind to wonder and amazement. We use a smidgin of our mental and spiritual capacity to survive- but not necessarily to revel in God's grace.

The problem of  "sign" driven spirituality is that you need bigger and better theophonies to remain interested. So while Jesus followers were anticipating Jesus to be enthroned as king, we can be pretty sure they didn't expect that enthronement would happen on a cross. Yes, flashy signs appeal to the false self and its insatiable demands that neither life nor God can guarantee.  

Repentance is akin to respect, the kind of love that heals and restores our capacity for the deepest blessings of gratitude and being present to ourselves, God and others without  conditions.  Even the simple act of breaking and sharing bread together can open the eyes of the blind to the One who in the words of John Thornburg is "engraved  on each proton of space."  

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