“Every stirring of genuine love makes us poor. It dominates the whole human person, makes absolute claims upon us (cf. Mt. 22:37), and thus subverts all extra-human assurances of security. The true lover must be unprotected and give of himself or herself without reservation or question; and must display lifelong fidelity. Every genuine human encounter must be inspired by poverty of spirit. We must forget ourselves in order to let the other person approach us. We must be able to open up to the other person, to let that person’s distinctive personality unfold–even though it often frightens or repels us. We often keep the other person down, and only see what we want to see; thus we never really encounter the mysterious secret of their being, only ourselves. Failing to risk the poverty of encounter, we indulge in a new form of self-assertion and pay a price for it: loneliness. Because we did not risk the poverty of openness (cf. Mt. 10:39), our lives are not graced with the warm fullness of human existence. We are left with only a shadow of our real self.” Johannes Baptist Metz
“If you cling to your life,
you will lose it;
but if you give up your life for me,
you will find it.”
Jesus, in Matthew 10:39
Moving From the Head to the Heart
When you think about attempting to lovingly encounter another (an Other)…
- Are you able to “forget” yourself, opening up so that the other person can approach you? …where you make the encounter about them, not you?
- What do you do when someone’s “distinctive” personality frightens or repels you? …do you abort the encounter–or trust God and attempt to engage anyway?
- Can you ask God to show you what ego issues, expectations or biases you may have that make conversations with others simply “a new form of self-assertion” for you?
Abba, help me love others as you have loved me.
For more: Poverty of Spirit by Johannes Baptist Metz
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”
“We have to resolutely put away our attachment to natural appearance and our habit of judging according to the outward face of things. I must learn that my fellow man, just as he is, whether he is my friend or my enemy, my brother or a stranger from the other side of the world, whether he be wise of foolish, no matter what my be his limitations, ‘is Christ.‘ …Any prisoner, any starving man, any sick or dying man, any sinner, any man whatever, is to be regarded as Christ–this is the formal command of the Savior Himself. This doctrine is far too simple to satisfy many modern Christians, and undoubtedly many will remain very uneasy with it, tormented by the difficulty that perhaps after all, this particular neighbor is a bad man, and therefore cannot be Christ. The solution of this difficulty is to unity oneself with the Spirit of Christ, to start thinking and loving as a Christian, and to stop being a hairsplitting pharisee. Our faith is not supposed …to assess the state of our neighbor’s conscience. It is the needle by which we draw the thread of charity through our neighbor’s soul and our own soul and sew ourselves together in one Christ. Our faith is given us not to see whether or not our neighbor is Christ, but to recognize Christ in him and to help our love make both him and ourselves more fully Christ. …corrupt forms of love wait for the neighbor to ‘become a worthy object of love’ before actually loving him. This is not the way of Christ. Since Christ Himself loved us when we were by no means worthy of love and still loves us with all our unworthiness, our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. …What we are asked to do is to love; and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbor worthy if anything can. Indeed, that is one of the most significant things about the power of love. There is no way under the sun to make a man worthy of love except by loving him. As soon as he realizes himself loved–if he is not so weak that he can no longer bear to be loved–he will feel himself instantly becoming worthy of love. He will respond by drawing a mysterious spiritual value out of his own depths, a new identity called into being by the love that is addressed to him.” Thomas Merton
From Head to Heart
- Why do we find so many reasons not to love?
Abba, teach me to love.
For More: Disputed Questions by Thomas Merton