Daily Riches: The Approachability of Jesus (Shannon Jung)

“People were bringing even infants, presumably those so young that they needed to be carried, and other children to Jesus ‘that he might touch them.’ Perhaps they had heard of Jesus’ miraculous healing powers and wanted to gain some of that for their children. However, that is partly to impose our more caring view of children onto first-century people. The literature on how children were viewed then suggests that people then did not value children very highly. Children were, in one interpretation, seen to be on the same social level as slaves: with few rights, open to abuse, and lacking protection under Jewish law. Other, more moderate views are that children were merely treated with indifference. . . . Clearly there is more than a metaphor here; there is an emotional image for us who would be disciples to imitate. There is something about Jesus that is a blessing, a hospitality, an approachability, a charisma that draws others into him. Luke the author wants us to get that image. . . . No one can merit or achieve the kingdom; it must be received without merit, as a child receives everything. . . . We, like the disciples, are to welcome as Jesus welcomed. We are to follow the example of Jesus, who called the marginal and the despised to himself. What we can do out of gratitude is to call the socially rejected to physical and spiritual life in Christ. Like the early church, we are to transform society by not just accepting but seeking out the outcasts and the marginalized. We are to treat them as Jesus did the children. . . . Ministry to, with, and for those who are on the margins is our response to God’s welcome of us. . . . What is the quality that commends children? Precisely their dependency. Their dependence on adults mirrors our dependence of God; that is one of the marks of the kingdom, which belongs to them (v. 16b). Here is exemplified the equal unworthiness, marginality and dependence of us all before God.” Shannon Jung

“Whoever does not receive
the kingdom of God as a little child
will never enter it.”
Luke 18:17 NLT

Moving From Head to Heart

  • What would a church look like that called the “socially rejected to physical and spiritual life in Christ?”
  • How would that impact it’s philosophy of ministry? . . . congregational demographics?
  • Have you ever been an outsider? Are there many socially rejected people in your congregation? . . . in your list of friends?

Abba, thank you for our approachable Jesus.

For More: Feasting on the Gospels, Vol. 2 by Cynthia Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson, eds.

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Daily Riches: Jesus Calls Us To the Chutes, Not the Ladders (Mark Ralls and D. L. Moody) *

“We may easily be too big for God to use, but never too small.” D. L. Moody

“There is a game for children that has been around for generations, and I expect almost every reader has played it at one time or another. . . . The game is Chutes and Ladders; since it is a game for little ones, the rules are about as simple and straightforward as you can get. Spin the wheel and move around the board. As you go, you wish for ladders and hope to avoid the chutes or slides. Land at the base of a ladder—All Right!—you get to climb all the way to the top, advancing beyond where even the highest spin can take you. Land at the top of a chute—Oh No!—you must slide all the way to the bottom, back toward the square where you started. Chutes and Ladders gives us some insight into the culture in which Jesus lived. Scholars tell us that first-century Mediterranean culture operated under the binaries of shame and honor. This basically means that people’s behavior was shaped by two things: the threat of being publicly shamed and the promise of being publicly honored. It is difficult to grasp the emotional power of one’s reputation in the ancient world. Our individualistic culture has muted its force. To be shamed was a terrible setback. To be honored moved you forward in the eyes of everyone who mattered most to you. It was akin to Chutes and Ladders. One evening Jesus tells two parables while he is a guest at a dinner party that includes the most honorable folks in town. Sitting there, Jesus cannot help but grin as he observes that this dinner party has all the social subtlety of a junior high cafeteria. Everyone is jockeying for a seat at the cool table. . . . So what does Jesus do? He stands up and tells all those guests a little story . . . . ‘Here is a little tip,’ Jesus says. ‘The next time you are invited to a wedding, do not take the best seat in the house. What is going to happen if someone more distinguished than you shows up? Hard to imagine, I know, but it could happen. When it does, you will find yourself at the top of the chute, and you will have to slide from the seat of honor all the way down to the seat of shame. Oh, what a long, lonely walk it is, from the first table to that one in the back, right beside the swinging door of the kitchen!’ To sharpen his point and to make sure we do not confine his advice to dinner parties, Jesus adds this: Those who make their own honor the goal of their lives will be ashamed of themselves in the end, and those who are humble, repeatedly putting others first, will experience the true, deep, and lasting honor of the kingdom of God. . . . these parables go much deeper than practical advice. They speak to the general arc of our lives. What if the point of our lives is not about climbing all the right ladders of achievement and prestige and power? What if our true purpose is to slide down as many chutes as possible to offer compassion and service and love to all those on the rungs below? While our culture may operate under different rules than honor and shame, we still live in the land of Chutes and Ladders. We fool ourselves into thinking that contentment lies on the rung just above us. So we reach for ever-new heights and climb as fast as we can. The rest is simple math. The more time and energy we dedicate to this all-consuming endeavor, the less we notice those who reside on the rungs below. We forget those we have passed along the way. It is just as true that we will most likely miss Christ himself. Born in the back room of a barn, spending his days bending his back to touch the hands of lepers, to caress the cheeks of widows, to place children on his knee, this humble Savior rode a donkey through the gates of Jerusalem and then knelt before his disciples to wash their feet. The only time he chose to ascend was up a hill called Calvary, where he bore our sins and carried our sorrows on his bent and holy back. On Easter morning, we discovered that his humility is what God truly honors. Climbing up, we are likely to pass right by the Son of God, who is intent on coming down. According to Jesus, we have completely misunderstood the point of the game. We are out there looking for ladders, when Jesus is calling us toward the chutes. We are climbing up, when he is calling to come down. If we dare to follow, he promises that in the end we will find deep blessing and true honor.” Mark Ralls

“When he had finished washing their feet,
he put on his clothes and returned to his place.
‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them.”
John 13:12 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you listening to Jesus about the Chutes?
  • Are you climbing up, whereas he was always bending down?
  • Jesus’ humility (his “downward mobility”) was for the purpose of showing compassion to those at the bottom of the Chutes. Isn’t he a beautiful person? Is this the person you’re making known with your life?

Abba, keep me off the Ladders . . . for the sake of compassion.

For More: The Selfless Way of Christ by Henri Nouwen

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Cynthia A. Jarvis & E. Elizabeth Johnson. Feasting on the Gospels–Luke, Volume 2: A Feasting on the Word Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, 2014.

Nouwen, Henri. The Selfless Way of Christ: Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life. Maryknoll: Orbis, 2007.

*One of the great things about making the rules, is that you can break them when you want. I thought that what Mark Ralls wrote was worth breaking my rule to limit posts to 400 words.

 

Daily Riches: God Has the Last Laugh (Donald McCullough, William Bausch)

“If God can succumb to the limitation–death–and transform it . . . into the world’s salvation . . . then we can move beyond optimism into an assured hope that our own death will become a doorway into life, a translation into an order of being that we cannot now comprehend. This being the case, we have good reason to believe that all the other limitations, while difficult and often painful, will also become, in the hands of God, instruments of healing and growth that will finally make possible the fulfillment of joy. God has the last laugh, in other words. There is an ancient Russian Orthodox tradition that devotes the day after Easter to sitting around a table and telling jokes. Why? According to William J. Bausch,

They were imitating that cosmic joke that God pulled on Satan in the resurrection. Satan thought he had won, and was smug in his victory, smiling to himself, having had the last word. So he thought. Then God raised Jesus from the dead, and life and salvation become the last words. And the whole world laughed at the devil’s discomfort. This attitude passed into the medieval concept of hilaritas, which did not mean mindless giggling, but that even at the moment of disaster one may wink because he or she knows there is a God.

The limitations of life, by themselves, are no joke. There is nothing funny about bodies wearing out, relationships coming to grief, achievements falling short, money running out, time slipping away, or any of the others. But when we view these things in the light of Easter, we must wink, if not laugh. We know that the story is not yet finished; if it now seems like a tragedy, it will, by an astonishing turn of events, become a comedy.” Donald McCullough

“May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.”
Matthew 6:10 NLT

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • It’s hard to face the tragedy in our world. Can you periodically “go there?”
  • Are you praying daily for the soon coming of God’s kingdom? If not, why not?
  • Can you move “beyond optimism?” Can you laugh no matter how dark the times?

Jesus, may you find me neither in denial, numb or overwhelmed by the tragedy everywhere in my world. In our darkness shine your light.

For More: The Consolations of Imperfection by Donald McCullough

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Daily Riches: If You Lose Your Mind (Janice Hicks)

“Early Christian theologians generally attributed the image of God ( imago dei) in humans to the mind/spirit or soul, which was ranked higher than the body. Basil said that ‘the rational part is the human being.’ Augustine believed the mind has two parts: ‘The higher part contemplates eternal truths and makes judgments’ and God communicates with us through it. French philosopher René Descartes further emphasized the supremacy of rationality with his dictum ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Many of us today still fall into the Cartesian idea that the rational part, thinking, defines ‘who I am.’ Rationality is important, but rationality as a determinant of the status of personhood is greatly problematic. . . . Seeing a person as ‘less than’ promotes an attitude of stigma . . . . Contemporary theologians have developed a more balanced view of what makes us human. In Eccentric Existence, theologian David Kelsey proposes that the basis for the value and relationship of the human being lies in God, that is, outside the human beings themselves. Kelsey says that personhood is ‘a status before God’ dependent on God’s relating to who I am . . . . ‘Personhood is not even a function of how we relate to God,’ Kelsey writes. Our ‘personhood is entirely a function of how God relates to us in creating us . . . and hardly at all from anything else.’ God’s relating to us is surely not lost in dementia [for instance] or any illness. According to Kelsey, other qualities beyond rationality make us human, including emotion, love, spirituality, awareness, and courage. These traits have been observed in people with dementia . . . . When a person develops dementia, are they less of a person? Do they lose their connection to God? Indeed, we value infants, and infants are not rational. We are all dependent at times. We are all limited. . . . Perhaps those with dementia remind us of our limitations and that makes us uncomfortable.” Janice Hicks in Sojourners

“We turned our backs on him
and looked the other way.”
Isaiah 53:3c NLT

Moving From Head to Heart

  • In truth, do you see (or treat) stigmatized people as “less than?”
  • Imagine if “our personhood is entirely a function of how God relates to us” rather than of how we relate to God. Imagine what that means.
  • Do you hope others will still treat you with dignity if you live long enough to lose your memory? Can you give such dignity to others now?

Abba, may I look with compassion on those less “able” than me.

For More: Redeeming Dementia by Dorothy Linthicum and Janice Hicks

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Sources:

Linthicum, Dorothy and Janice Hicks. Redeeming Dementia: Spirituality, Theology, and Science. Church: 2018.

Also helpful:

Dettloff, Dean. “After Deadly Van Attack . . . .” America. May 28, 2018.

Keenan, James F. “The Francis Effect On Health Care.” America. May 28, 2018.

 

Daily Riches: The Center of Our Relationship with Jesus (Joni Eareckson Tada)

“The cross is the center of our relationship with Jesus. . . . the cross is where we die. We go there daily. It isn’t easy. Normally, we follow Christ anywhere–to a party, as it were, where he changes water into wine, to a sunlit beach where he preaches from a boat, to a breezy hillside where he feeds thousands . . . But to the cross? We dig in our heels. The invitation is so frighteningly individual. It’s an invitation to go alone. . . . Thus we live independently of the cross. Or try to. As time passes, the memory of our desperate state when we first believed fades. The cross was something that happened to us ‘back then.’ . . . We would hardly admit it, but we know full well how autonomous of God we operate. This is where God steps in. He permits suffering. . . . Suffering reduces us to nothing . . . . To be reduced to nothing is to be dragged to the foot of the cross. It’s a severe mercy. . . . . When suffering forces us to our knees at the foot of Calvary, we die to self. We cannot kneel there for long without releasing our pride and anger, unclasping our dreams and desires–this is what coming to the cross is all about. In exchange, God imparts power and implants new and lasting hope. We rise, renewed. His yoke becomes easy; his burden light. But just when we begin to get a tad self-sufficient, suffering presses harder. And so, we seek the cross again, mortifying the martyr in us, destroying the self-display. . . . God reveals more of his love, more of his power and peace as we hold fast the cross of suffering.” Joni Eareckson Tada

“We who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake,
so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.”
2 Corinthians 4:11 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you sense the cross at work in you in a necessary and daily way?
  • Are you letting it strip you of what needs to go?
  • Suffering is “severe.” It’s the “mercy” no one wants–but it is mercy. It is love. Unfortunately, the life of Jesus just isn’t formed in us without it. Can you remember this during the next round?

Abba, thank you for your unfailing love in the midst of your severity with me.

For More: When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes

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Daily Riches: Having the Courage To “Go There” (Katie Couric)

“I learned the story of Elizabeth Lawrence, a schoolteacher in Birmingham who scolded a group of white children after they threw stones at her. The children told their parents. A mob came to her home, murdered her, and burned her house down. I learned the story of Thomas Miles, Sr., of Shreveport, Louisiana, a black man who was accused of writing a letter to a white woman. After a judge acquitted him, he was abducted by a mob outside the courtroom and taken to a tree where he was beaten, stabbed, shot, and hanged. I learned the story of Mamie, who was a child in Mississippi when her father and his friend were threatened with lynching. Mamie’s family fled; her father’s friend stayed and was hanged. . . . Lynchings occurred at any time, for many reasons: allegations of a serious crime or a casual transgression, fear of interracial sex, or desire for public spectacle. The terror it induced is impossible to describe, a burden still carried today. We haven’t learned to talk about lynching–or the nation’s racist history–in an open and honest way. It’s difficult to face the past, to acknowledge the role of some of our ancestors in the brutality inflicted upon their fellow humans. Despite what we were taught in grade school, our collective shame does not fit neatly in the time period between the Civil War and the civil rights movement. It’s time to understand the complete picture of our history, to have the courage to go there, to absorb it.” Katie Couric

“And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man,
so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”
1 Corinthians 14:48b NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The deaths by lynching of 4,400 people, mostly in Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, have been documented by the Equal Justice Initiative. If we were going to talk about this, who would talk to who, and about what?
  • Jesus Christ came into our world to “set the captives free” (Luke 4:18), and as an act of love for all our world’s people–the kosmos (John 3:16).  Jesus practiced and emphasized loving those in great need (Luke 10). In the verse above, the Apostle Paul argues that “we” (any who bear Adam’s image) are equal candidates to bear God’s image. Given just these few facts, can you think of a way to justify 4,400 lynchings?
  • If our culture won’t have the courage to talk about this, can at least the church model how to “go there?”

Abba, may we do what we can that these dead shall not have died in vain.

For More: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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Couric, Katie. “Hallowed Ground.” National Geographic (April 2018): pp. 150-151.

Staples, Brent. “When Southern Newspapers Justified Lynching” New York Times, May 6, 2018.

Daily Riches: The King Of the Poor Becomes Poor (Francis de Sales and Henri Nouwen)

“‘Who is weak and I am not weak?’ says St. Paul. He might have continued: ‘Who is poor and I am not poor?’ Love makes us like those we love.[ℹ︎] If then we truly love the poor, truly enter into their poverty, we will be poor with them. We cannot love the poor by keeping at a distance, but only by being with them, by visiting them, by talking freely, openly with them, by being with them in the church, on the street, wherever poverty leads, wherever need is present. Speak with everyone out of your own poverty, but let your hands be rich, sharing freely of what you have. Blessed are they who are thus poor, for theirs truly is the kingdom of heaven. To them the King of Kings who is King of the Poor will say on the day of judgment: ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked, and you covered me. Come possess the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.'” Francis de Sales

“Like every human organization the Church is constantly in danger of corruption. As soon as power and wealth come to the Church, manipulation, exploitation, misuse of influence, and outright corruption are not far away. How do we prevent corruption in the Church? The answer is clear: by focusing on the poor. The poor make the Church faithful to its vocation. When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness.” Henri Nouwen

“It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor;
blessed are those who help the poor.”
Proverbs 14:21
NLT

Abba, “I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you covered me. I was homeless and you called me to possess the kingdom prepared for me and for all the poor, naked, and homeless. . . . You have not kept your distance. You have entered into my poverty. You have greeted me with a full hand. You have gone where poverty drew you. Let me follow in your steps.” (de Sales)

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Did Jesus keep at a distance from you, or did he enter into your poverty?
  • Are you aware of poverty drawing you and asking you to “share freely what you have?”
  • We never learn these difficult practices if we keep “at a distance.” How can you practice “being with” the poor?

For More: Set Your Heart Free by Francis de Sales

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Thanks for following and sharing my blog. I appreciate it! – Bill

Sources:

de Sales, Francis. Set Your Heart Free. Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria, 2008.

Nouwen, Henri. Bread For the Journey. New York: Harper One, 1997.

 

[ℹ︎]”Because of his boundless love, Jesus became what we are that he might make us to be what he is.” Irenaeus

Daily Riches: Jesus’ Shocking Welcome (Christopher L. Heuertz and Christine D. Pohl)

“Evangelism, and even the notion of mission itself, has sometimes been reduced to the words we share with another person, telling him or her about Jesus, salvation, or eternal life. Words are important, but they can also be cheap. If we use words and get words in response, sometimes we think we’ve done mission or evangelism. Ministry among poor and vulnerable people reminds us that words are rarely enough—what each of us needs is to know that we are loved by Jesus, beloved of God. Everything else flows from that. In situations of injustice or despair, words alone are particularly insufficient. People need to be loved and valued by others. They need to see what love looks like.When Jesus is called a friend of tax collectors and sinners, the description is not intended as a compliment (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). But it does acknowledge the shocking welcome he embodied in reaching out to those considered unclean and unworthy. He seems to have enjoyed being with them. Causing considerable offense to the religious authorities, Jesus gladly shared meals with these friends and brought them love, hope, and healing. . . . Learning to see the so-called other as a friend increases our sensitivity to the reductionism, commodification, and manipulation that plague some versions of mission and ministry. Human beings who are not Christians are far more than potential converts. In our concern for reaching out with the gospel, we can unwittingly reduce the person to less than the whole being that God formed. . . . We are better able to resist tendencies to reductionism when we are in relationships that affirm each person’s dignity and identity and when we come into those relationships confident that God is already at work in the other person.” Christopher Heuertz and Christine Pohl

“If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, ‘You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor’—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?” James 2:3,4 NLT

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you know that you are “beloved by God?” Is this your starting point for ministry to others?
  • Jesus “seemed to enjoy being with them” (the “unclean and unworthy”). Do you think of Jesus that way?
  • Are some people so “other” to you that there is no chance of you ever knowing or loving them? How can you become more like Jesus?

Abba, let me love in deeds–and without discrimination.

For More: Friendship At the Margins by Christopher Heuertz and Christine Pohl

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. Thanks for your interest! – Bill

Heuertz, Christopher L. and Pohl, Christine D., Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission. Downers Grove: IVP, 2010.

 

 

Daily Riches: The Problem With Coping and Fixing (David Benner and Gerald May)

“It’s so hard for many of us to encounter things we can’t fix. That’s the trouble with living in a broken world. There is so much that we simply can’t fix–in ourselves, in others, in the world. The problems are simply too vast and our solutions are, at best, half-vast. Welcome to God’s world. But note how God seems to relate to these vast problems. God’s response seems to be to come along side those who are suffering and hold their pain, not eliminate it. Perhaps there’s a lesson in that for fixers. Perhaps it’s an invitation to stand with God in holding things that we can’t fix. But, this is where the real miracle enters this process–in that holding we become shaped in the image of Compassion. Maybe that’s the ultimate point of the encounter with unfixable realities.” David Benner

“I have come to hate that word, because to cope with something you have to separate yourself from it. You make it your antagonist, your enemy. Like management, coping is a taming word, sometimes even a warfare word. Wild, untamed emotions are full of life-spirit, vibrant with the energy of being. They don’t have to be acted out, but neither do they need to be tamed. They are part of our inner wilderness; they can be just what they are. God save me from coping. God help me join, not separate. Help me be with and in, not apart from. Show me the way to savoring, not controlling. Dear God, hear my prayer: make me forever copeless.” Gerald May

“Who is weak without my feeling that weakness?
Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?”
2 Corinthians 11:29

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think for a moment about all you can’t fix in your world. What emotions arise?
  • Think about God as you understand God. In what sense is God a fixer or not a fixer?
  • What is the problem with “coping” and “fixing?”

Abba, may I not be deterred from loving well because I insist of fixing what can’t be, or shouldn’t be, fixed.

For More: The Wisdom of Wilderness by Gerald May

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to regularly give you something of unique value in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. Thanks for your interest! – Bill

Sources:

Benner, David. “Holding Rather Than Fixing.” His Facebook post from September 27, 2017.

May, Gerald G.. The Wisdom of Wilderness: Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature . HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

 

 

 

 

Daily Riches: Becoming A New Person In Jesus Christ (Rowan Williams and Augustine)

“… contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom—freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that come from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative prayer is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter. …To be converted to the faith does not mean simply acquiring a new set of beliefs, but becoming a new person, a person in communion with God and others through Jesus Christ. Contemplation is an intrinsic element in this transforming process. To learn to look to God without regard to my own instant satisfaction, to learn to scrutinize and to relativise the cravings and fantasies that arise in me—this is to allow God to be God, and thus to allow the prayer of Christ, God’s own relation to God, to come alive in me. Invoking the Holy Spirit is a matter of asking the third person of the Trinity to enter my spirit and bring the clarity I need to see where I am in slavery to cravings and fantasies and to give me patience and stillness as God’s light and love penetrate my inner life. …And as this process unfolds, I become more free—to borrow a phrase of St. Augustine—to ‘love human beings in a human way,’ to love them not for what they may promise me, to love them not as if they were there to provide me with lasting safety and comfort, but as fragile fellow-creatures held in the love of God. I discover … how to see other persons and things for what they are in relation to God, not to me. And it is here that true justice as well as true love has its roots.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love …”
Ephesians 3:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If you can, please read this again. Can you see why contemplation is so important and powerful?
  • Do you regularly practice contemplation?
  • If not, do you have another practice that promises the same results?

Abba, let me be rooted and held in your love for me.

For More: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Address…” by Rowan Williams

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Thank you for following and sharing my blog. I really appreciate it! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill

Daily Riches: The Downward Path To Freedom (Richard Rohr)

“Jesus himself taught and exemplified the path of descent, which Christians have often called ‘the way of the cross.’ The path downward is much more trustworthy than any path upward, which tends to feed the ego. Like few other Christians, it was Francis of Assisi who profoundly understood that. Authentic spirituality is always on some level or in some way about letting go. Jesus said, ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Once we see truly what traps us and keeps us from freedom we should see the need to let it go. But in a consumer society most of us have had no training in that direction. Rather, more is usually considered better. True liberation is letting go of our small self, letting go of our cultural biases, and letting go of our fear of loss and death. Freedom is letting go of wanting more and better things, and it is letting go of our need to control and manipulate God and others. It is even letting go of our need to know and our need to be right—which we only discover with maturity. We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem. Francis sought freedom in all three parts of life. My good friend Fr. John Dear puts it very well: ‘Francis embodies the Gospel journey from violence to non-violence, wealth to poverty, power to powerlessness, selfishness to selfless service, pride to humility, indifference to love, cruelty to compassion, vengeance to forgiveness, revenge to reconciliation, war to peace, killing enemies to loving enemies. More than any other Christian, he epitomizes discipleship to Jesus. . . .'” Richard Rohr

“the truth will set you free”
Jesus in John 8:32

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • We often think of spiritual formation as mostly an “adding on” of virtues–for instance patience or love. Have you even thought of approaching spiritual formation by subtracting behaviors–like hurry–a practice that prevents love and contradicts patience?
  • To say “we have no training” in this is an understatement. Everything in our society teaches us the opposite. Are you seeking out other voices to teach you these kinds of truths and reinforce them in your heart and mind?
  • What can you do to more effectively “epitomize discipleship to Jesus?”

Abba, help me to join Jesus and Francis on the path of descent.

For More: You Will Be My Witnesses by John Dear

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to regularly give you something of unique value in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. Thanks for your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Caring For Others More Than They Care For Themselves (Teresa of Ávila and Kenneth Osbeck)

“The heart of the Christian gospel is the gentle word ‘come.’ From the moment of a person’s conversion [and for everyone from infancy!] until he or she is ushered into eternal glory, the Saviour beckons with the gracious invitation ‘come.’ This word appears more than 500 times throughout the Scriptures.” Kenneth Osbeck

“May you be blessed forever, Lord,
for not abandoning me when I abandoned you.
May you be blessed forever, Lord,
for offering your hand of love in my darkest, most lonely moment.
May you be blessed forever, Lord,
for putting up with such a stubborn soul as mine.
May you be blessed forever, Lord,
for loving me more than I love myself.
May you be blessed forever, Lord,
for continuing to pour out your blessings upon me, even though I respond so poorly.
May you be blessed forever, Lord,
for drawing out the goodness in people, including me.
May you be blessed forever, Lord,
for repaying our sins with your love.
May you blessed forever, Lord,
for being constant and unchanging, amidst all the changes in the world.
May you be blessed forever, Lord,
for your countless blessings on me
and on every creature in the world. Amen.”
Teresa of Ávila

“Whoever does not love does not know God,
because God is love.”
1 John 4:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you let God love you in your “darkest, most lonely moment?” …even after you had “abandoned God?” …been sinful and stubborn?
  • After trying to help others who wouldn’t be helped, someone said in frustration, “I can’t care more than they do.” Compare that to Teresa’s portrayal of God’s love which includes “loving me more than I love myself.”
  • God’s love is consistent when we’re inconsistent. …continues to bless when the response is poor and in spite of stubbornness. …repays sin with love. …flows indiscriminately to “every creature in the world.” Are you learning from God’s love for you to love others like God loves?
  • “I can’t care more than you do.” is a dressed-up excuse for withholding love. Can you think of any excuses you make?

Abba, may I learn to love others well as I dwell on your unprecedented, unparalleled love for me.

For More: Let Nothing Disturb You: A Journey to the Center of the Soul with Teresa of Avila, ed. by John Kirvan

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to regularly give you something of unique value in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. Thanks for your interest! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill

Daily Riches: What “Love Your Neighbor” Looks Like In Public (Rose Marie Berger)

“To understand how to be an ‘active bystander,’ one must first understand the ‘passive bystander’ effect. Research shows that when someone needs help and they are in a crowd, bystanders are less likely to act. The more bystanders there are to an event, the more each one thinks someone else will help. But, said psychologist Ken G. Brown, when one person takes an action, the passive bystander results are reversed. ‘We go from having a bystander effect where people are less likely to help to having what could be called a “helper effect” where …as long as one person actively helps, more people are more likely to jump in to aid further,’ said Brown. There are four key principles that guide active-bystander intervention, according to Maryland-based trainer Kit Bonson:

  • Show moral courage by acting calmly on principle, not emotion.
  • Engage in de-escalation by limiting the ways a situation might become worse; reduce drama.
  • Prioritize the targeted person by asking if they want help. Don’t take away the targeted person’s agency. Act not as a savior, but as an actively concerned bystander.
  • Ignore the attacker, create a safe space for the targeted person, and ask other bystanders for a specific action.

Hollaback, a global movement to end harassment in public spaces, identifies the four Ds of active-bystander intervention: direct intervention, distract (indirect intervention), delegate (ask others for help), and delay (respond to the targeted person after the situation is over). …In an era of increased bias incidents and a climate of fear, nonviolence and active-bystander intervention is what ‘love your neighbor’ looks like in public.” Rose Marie Berger

“Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho,
when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away,
leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road,
and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him,
passed by on the other side.” Luke 10:30-32

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Being a “good Samaritan” can be dangerous. Will that be enough to deter you?
  • Are you determined to help? Are you mentally preparing for that moment?
  • Are you practicing the kind of virtues now that you’ll need if you try to help then?
  • Does this seem to you like an important issue? …one that Christians should be concerned about?

Abba, strengthen me to act when someone else needs me.

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. I appreciate it! – Bill

Daily Riches: Surrendering to Love (Elizabeth of the Trinity and Jacopone de Todi)

“I love to penetrate beyond the veil of the soul to this inner sanctuary where we live alone with God. He wants us entirely to himself, and is making there within us a cherished solitude. Listen to everything that is being sung …in his heart. It is Love, the infinite love that envelops us and desires to give us a share …in all his blessedness. The whole Blessed Trinity dwells in us, the whole of that mystery which will be our vision in heaven. …I am ‘Elizabeth of the Trinity’—Elizabeth disappearing, losing herself, allowing herself to be invaded by the Three. Let us live for love, always surrendered, immolating ourselves at every moment, by doing God’s will without searching for extraordinary things. Then let us make ourselves quite tiny, allowing ourselves to be carried, like a babe in its mother’s arms, by him who is our all. …In the morning, let us wake in Love. All day long let us surrender ourselves to Love, by doing the will of God, under his gaze, with him, in him, for him alone. …And then, when evening comes, after a dialogue of love that has never stopped in our hearts, let us go to sleep still in love. And if we are aware of any faults, let us simply abandon them to Love, which is a consuming fire…!” Elizabeth of the Trinity

“Love is nailed on the cross, that has seized him and will not let him go. I go running to it and am nailed there too so that I cannot go astray…. O cross, I am hanging on you and am nailed to you, so that I, dying, may taste the life with which you are adorned. O honeyed death, sad for one who has not undergone it! O my soul, so burning to receive its wound that I may die with my heart overcome with love. O love of the lamb, greater than the wide sea, who can tell of you? Whoever is drowned in it and has it on all sides does not know where he is, and madness, walking driven mad with love, seems the straight way to him.” Jacopone de Todi

“As the Father has loved me,
so have I loved you.”
Jesus in John 15:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Today few write like Elizabeth (b. 1880) and Jacopone (b. 1230) do here. How do their words affect you?
  • Have you noticed any similar “mystical” portions in the New Testament?
  • How close to a goal of yours is it to “all day long surrender [yourself] to love?”

Abba, free me from my cold-hearted, fact-dominated approach to life with you.

For More: Voices Of The Saints by Bert Ghezzi

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog!

Daily Riches: The Lifetime Job of Learning to Love (Dorothy Day and John Steinbeck)

“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.” John Steinbeck

“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. If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens. If we love enough, we are going to light that fire in the hearts of others. And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much. Yes, I see only too clearly how bad people are. I wish I did not see it so. It is my own sins that give me such clarity. If I did not bear the scars of so many sins to dim my sight and dull my capacity for love and joy, then I would see Christ more clearly in you all. I cannot worry too much about your sins and miseries when I have so many of my own. I can only love you all, poor fellow travelers, fellow sufferers. I do not want to add one least straw to the burden you already carry. My prayer from day to day is that God will so enlarge my heart that I will see you all, and live with you all, in his love.” Dorothy Day

“But the Lord said to Samuel,
‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
1 Samuel 16:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of the “self-seeking” element of your love for others? Are you improving?
  • Could it be your own sin that keeps you from seeing others as they truly are? …seeing “Christ more clearly” in others?
  • Is learning to love well the most important thing in your life? Should it be?

Abba, enlarge my heart to see others and relate to others through the eyes of your love.

For More: On Pilgrimage by Dorothy Day

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you in less than 400 words. Please leave a question or comment. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

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