Friday, April 25, 2014

Wake Up to Freedom

A few years ago, Alone with the Alone became the basis for a year long retreat. Here's what the author, Jesuit George Maloney, has to say about Jesus' freedom, the key to our freedom:
To be loved is also to be set free

"The freedom of Jesus cannot be understood except in light of the infinite love of the Father that was constantly poured into his heart: "I am in the Father and Father is in me." (John 14:11). "In his body lives the fullness of divinity" Colossians 2:9, since the Father continually pours into his being the gift of himself in the Spirit of love. Joy, ecstasy, peace and happiness pour over Jesus as he not only receives the Father as gift but he becomes a gift, freely given back in self-surrendering love to the Father. Jesus constantly was wrapped in the loving presence of his Father who poured his Spirit of love into Jesus' being. With joyful response Jesus delighted to love..."

We can choose to live consciously- in a God-infused world. And if Jesus' gift was total self- giving love with himself and the Father and Holy Spirit, then why should we not draw continually on the same love that is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that is given to us? 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wake Up to Joy

Lasting joy is God's gift to give 
"Because he lives, all fear is gone." Really? If having no fear is the measure of Christian spirituality, then I know many believers, including myself, that don't make the cut.

Nowhere does Jesus promise that all our fears will dissolve. Instead, relationship with him is about asking, and receiving fullness of joy. John 16:23-24 The truth is, we will never understand what Jesus is talking about, what joy is, until we know ourselves to be loved. Joy is a true and lasting fruit of Holy Spirit, and it's the result of being loved by God. 

Most, if not all, joys are short- lived, and come with attachment and addiction. And harmful consequences to ourselves and others. The fix that we get from a drink, a shiny new sports car, a drug, money, power, or relationship, is a toxic substitute for the joy of loving and accepting our true selves. We cannot have enough of anything that isn't working.

Looking on the outside in the world of things and people and relationships will not save us from unhappiness. The joy of John 16 is an inside job, to use words parallel the famous Jesuit author, John S. Powell.  Joy comes as a result of the gift, the inheritance of God's eternal life and love. I Peter 1.

The way to joy lies in affirming that what God did in creation was good. God first loved us, and we let that become our joy.   

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wake Up to Love

It's time to wake up
But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise-- let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy-- your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. Isaiah 26:19

But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you." Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise.... Ephesians 5:13-15

The act of de-cluttering our lives begins in receiving the light, the joy, and the renewal that only God can give. Trusting the living Christ now and receiving the promise of being like him in the resurrection is apart of purgation, according to I John 3:3. 

Even before we walk, we choose to do so. We want and will to move in God's direction. We repent and change course, if at first only in our thinking. But it begins in knowing ourselves as first loved by God.

Becoming known and loved in the deepest sense is God's gift to give. For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. I Cor. 13:12. That kind of seeing, here and now, is a promise received through faith. 

The best news is that it is much easier to know God, whose intentions are clear from the beginning, than it is to know ourselves. We hide behind the false, ego - created self. We sculpt something else that we think will give us a better chance at having love, security, power, or happiness. We do not see ourselves for who we really are. We have trouble knowing and accepting and loving ourselves as we are.

But God doesn't have a hidden agenda. God creates life out of abundance, without needing to, and calls our creation very good! Our God-image and birth right is rooted in being created and loved by God. Simply put, it really isn't your opinion of yourself that matters so much anymore. Rather, it's God opinion of you that matters. We regard no one, including ourselves, from what St. Paul referred to as "a human point of view." 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Joining Church: Is a Disclaimer Needed?

I'm often reminded of what the great comedian Groucho Marx said about membership in a group: "I refuse to join any organization that will have me as one of its members."  Would admitting our flaws protect us against ourselves?

In groups explaining church membership, I find it helpful to admit that every day, someone is going to say or do something stupid because after all, that's what human beings do. See also Beginnings: An Introduction to Christian Faith.  

This is how Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics close many of their meetings. It's a wise disclaimer stating that even our best intentions are not always apparent to those who aren't insiders:
In closing, I would like to say that the opinions expressed here were strictly those of the person who gave them. Take what you liked and leave the rest. The things you heard were spoken in confidence and should be treated as confidential. Keep them within the walls of this room and the confines of your mind. A few special words to those of you who haven’t been with us long: Whatever your problems, there are those among us who have had them too. If you try to keep an open mind, you will find help. You will come to realize that there is no situation too difficult to be bettered and no unhappiness too great to be lessened. We aren't perfect. The welcome we give you may not show the warmth we have in our hearts for you. After a while you’ll discover that though you may not like all of us, you’ll love us in a very special way - the same way we already love you. Talk to each other, reason things out with someone else, but let there be no gossip or criticism of one another. Instead, let the understanding, love and peace of the program grow in you one day at a time. 
If we incorporated parts of the above, would we have a better chance of nipping any grandiose expectations about Christ's Body? Would there be less disappointment with our corporate and individual brokenness? Less incongruity between our words and where we actually live? At the very least, we would have a better chance at honesty about who we really are, and a movement toward more, not less, authenticity. 

Oldies but Goodies