Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them.
— Matt 23: 1-4
The fierce words of Jesus addressed to the Pharisees of His day stretch across the bands of time. Today they are directed not only to fallen televangelists but to each of us. We miss Jesus’ point entirely when we use His words as weapons against others. They are to be taken personally by each of us. This is the form and shape of Christian Pharisaism in our time. Hypocrisy is not the prerogative of people in high places. The most impoverished among us is capable of it. Hypocrisy is the natural expression of what is meanest in us all. Continue reading “Desert Day 44: Like The Pharisee …”
In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), there are two sons: the younger son, who runs away from home to an alien country, and the older son, who stays home to do his duty. The younger son dissipates himself with alcohol and sex; the older son alienates himself by working hard and dutifully fulfilling all his obligations. Both are lost. Their father grieves over both, because with neither of them does he experience the intimacy he desires.
Both lust and cold obedience can prevent us from being true children of God. Whether we are like the younger son or the older son, we have to come home to the place where we can rest in the embrace of God’s unconditional love. Continue reading “Desert Day 43: On Coming Home …”
I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.
— Albert Schweitzer from Returning: A Spiritual Journey
Even the best of human love is filled with self-seeking. To work to increase our love for God and for our fellow man (and the two must go hand in hand) – this is a lifetime job. We are never going to be finished. Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up. Continue reading “Desert Day 39: Love and Even More Love …”
Finally, Jesus says we have to love and recognize the divine image even in our enemies. He teaches what many thought a leader could never demand of his followers: love of the enemy. Logically that makes no sense. But soulfully it makes absolute sense, because in terms of the soul, it really is all or nothing. Either we see the divine image in all created things, or we don’t see it at all. We see it once, and the circle keeps moving outward, widening its embrace. Continue reading “Desert Day 29: One Love And One Truth …”
Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.
― Mary Oliver from “It Was Early” in Evidence
May this [year]
be a [year] of blessings:
blessings of goodness,
blessings of joy,
peace and kindness,
friendship and love,
Continue reading “Prayer for a Year of Blessings …”
The American Declaration of Independence says we have an “unalienable right” to the pursuit of happiness. God created us to be happy and joyful “in this world and the next,” and Jesus says the same several times in John 14- 17. The only difference between the two is that any happiness that is demanded from life never becomes happiness because it is too narcissistically and self-consciously pursued. The “joy the world cannot give” (John 14:27) always comes as a gift to those who wait for it, expect it and make room for it inside themselves. The first is self-assertion, the second is self-surrender. The first is taking; the second is receiving. The two entirely different human dynamics. You do not catch a butterfly by chasing it. You sit still and it alights on your shoulder. Then is chooses you. That is true happiness.
— Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas
Giving and Receiving
This prayer is based on the scriptural imperative to give of what we have received. Our gifts are recalled and named so we can see our abundance. We then respond with our willingness to share this abundance with others … Continue reading “Advent Day 27: The Gift of Christmas …”
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt …
— Matthew 2:13-14
Jesus Is a Refugee
If we read 2:13-14 in the context of Matthew’s Gospel, we realize that even in his childhood the Son of Man already lacked a place to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). Disciples would face the same kind of test (Matthew 10:23; Matthew 24:16). Continue reading “Advent Day 19: Jesus Was A Refugee …”
A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder. Continue reading “The Force of Kindness …”
This is a story of a chance encounter with a Trappist monk on a cold Christmas Eve of how “in our fear we forget the miraculous”. Click here to read the full story …
Continue reading “A Christmas Lesson from a Trappist Monk …”